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What does loving yourself REALLY mean?

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Old 01-11-2011, 11:51 AM   #1
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Default What does loving yourself REALLY mean?

So, I have often heard that you need to love yourself first before anyone else can love you.

I often feel a bit confused, as I am not sure how I can tell if I love myself or not? If I take care of myself and pay my bills, etc., does that mean I love myself? What is the true measure of loving yourself? How would you clearly define when a person loves who they are, versus when they do not love themself?
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:31 PM   #2
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For me, loving myself meant not thinking or saying bad things about myself. It meant taking care of myself and showing respect for myself. I used to have a lot of self-deprecation but I stopped allowing that. I also understand that things like eating right and exercising are also part of loving myself. Those things can be challenging as someone with lifetime food issues but it is something to work on.

It is also knowing that my self-worth isn't based on my weight and knowing that I am a valuable person that deserves to be on this planet just as everyone else. I used to apologize to people a lot, for just 'existing'. I stopped that. That is not self-love.

No one is more valuable to me than me and it doesn't matter how many 'things' someone has or what size they are or what not. I am me and I can improve me but I need to focus on me and not on things that aren't me. If that makes sense.
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:58 PM   #3
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OK, well, my opinion on this might not be what you were expecting but...

I don't think the vast majority of people have trouble "loving themselves". I think they love themselves too much and other people not enough. Most of us (myself definitely included) are selfish creatures. I look after my own needs and wants first, before anyone else. I don't think I'm all that different from the sibling who takes the cup with slightly more juice than the others. I love myself plenty.

IMO when people talk about not loving themselves, or having low self esteem, what they really mean is that they look at the decisions they've made in their lives and they're disgusted with themselves. But too many people just stay there; they don't DO anything about changing them. I think this is where not-loving-myself comes in.

I think there's a simple solution. If a person looks at him/herself and feels like they need to love themselves more... reach out to someone in need. Make a meal for a needy family... donate time/ money/ resources to those less fortunate... seek out a homeless person or someone who is elderly and could use a little help or encouragement. Not only does this help them (hopefully), but I think it also helps us respect ourselves and our decisions a little more. And yes, maybe make us a little less selfish.

OK, off the soapbox now LOL
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:14 PM   #4
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I've always approached the subject like this:

Who am I? Who do I want to be? What is important to me in life?

and the main question: "If I were someone else, would I want to be a friend of mine?"

I do love myself. I am a good person. I have a great sense of humor and I am loyal to my family & friends. I do good things for me, like eating healthy, exercising, and not imbibing in too much alcohol, TV, no drugs, etc. I take care of me. My opinion matters. I don't do things that would knowingly cause bad consequences for myself. I work, I pay taxes, I contribute to society.

This doesn't mean that I don't have flaws, or things about myself that I don't want (or try) to change. Clearly! -I am here for a reason - to get (& give!) SUPPORT for weight loss & weight management.

Love yourself, love others, love life. That's what living is to me.
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:41 PM   #5
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Yes there are a lot of selfish people, but there are also people who put themselves last in their life. Everyone else's needs come before their own.

I was taught to be that kind of person. I was taught that it was just what women were supposed to do - do good in the world and take care of everyone else.

Until I got sick, I always worked two jobs, mostly in social service, teaching and in law enforcement (as a child care worker in a juvenile detention home and as a probation officer. Probation officers at least in my county were 80% life coach/counselor and only 20% law enforcement).

I did volunteer work and even my jobs were about taking care of others.

I wasn't a saint. Far from it, because I didn't fully realize that helping others was a choice. The gifts I gave weren't usually an anonymous gift where no one knew but me, so I fed off the joy I could bring others. That can be it's own type of selfishness - living vicariously through others.

Don't get me wrong, I still like that kind of giving and there's nothing worng with it. It feels wonderful to know you're helping someone (even if they don't appreciate it at the time). I loved when I'd run into someone I'd helped years later and they told me how I'd helped them.

But too much of my joy in life came from helping. I burnt the candle at both ends. I wasn't lacking confidence, or self-esteem, or even self-love. I liked the person I was, and I thought I was taking care of myself, but I was still putting myself dead-last more often than not.

Food was my main "guilty pleasure," the one way I took care of myself (but I really wasn't. I was responding to my emotional needs, not my physical ones).

I think my helping others was more selfish than I realized. It was filling my need to nurture. I was giving away what I needed from others. I lived vicariously through the people I helped. Even among my friends, I was always the one everyone went to for advice and a shoulder to cry on. I didn't know how to cry on anyone else's shoulder (I convinced myself that I didn't need anyone to do that for me - food was my emotional support system).

Loving yourself and loving others is about balance. Finding a way to meet your own needs and the needs of others. Some people need to learn to take, and others need to learn to give, and many people need to learn balance.

Balance isn't popular in the world today. We're a culture of extremes, not of moderation. When I was a kid, I used to hear "there are givers and there are takers in this world." (This was usually followed by either the compliment "and you are a giver," or the insult "you are a taker.")

I think more people need to learn to do both. To be fair to others and fair to themselves. Helping others is a wonderful gift, but not if you're doing it in order to feel good about yourself. Then it can almost be like an addictive drug, and you can hurt yourself and make yourself less useful to others in the long run.

I would have been able to stay in the helping professions longer, if I hadn't decided that sleep and health were acceptable sacrifices. In the long-run I short-changed not only myself, but all of the people I wanted to help.
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Old 01-11-2011, 02:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaplods View Post
Yes there are a lot of selfish people, but there are also people who put themselves last in their life. Everyone else's needs come before their own.

I was taught to be that kind of person. I was taught that it was just what women were supposed to do - do good in the world and take care of everyone else.

Until I got sick, I always worked two jobs, mostly in social service, teaching and in law enforcement (as a child care worker in a juvenile detention home and as a probation officer. Probation officers at least in my county were 80% life coach/counselor and only 20% law enforcement).

I did volunteer work and even my jobs were about taking care of others.

I wasn't a saint. Far from it, because I didn't fully realize that helping others was a choice. The gifts I gave weren't usually an anonymous gift where no one knew but me, so I fed off the joy I could bring others. That can be it's own type of selfishness - living vicariously through others.

Don't get me wrong, I still like that kind of giving and there's nothing worng with it. It feels wonderful to know you're helping someone (even if they don't appreciate it at the time). I loved when I'd run into someone I'd helped years later and they told me how I'd helped them.

But too much of my joy in life came from helping. I burnt the candle at both ends. I wasn't lacking confidence, or self-esteem, or even self-love. I liked the person I was, and I thought I was taking care of myself, but I was still putting myself dead-last more often than not.

Food was my main "guilty pleasure," the one way I took care of myself (but I really wasn't. I was responding to my emotional needs, not my physical ones).

I think my helping others was more selfish than I realized. It was filling my need to nurture. I was giving away what I needed from others. I lived vicariously through the people I helped. Even among my friends, I was always the one everyone went to for advice and a shoulder to cry on. I didn't know how to cry on anyone else's shoulder (I convinced myself that I didn't need anyone to do that for me - food was my emotional support system).

Loving yourself and loving others is about balance. Finding a way to meet your own needs and the needs of others. Some people need to learn to take, and others need to learn to give, and many people need to learn balance.

Balance isn't popular in the world today. We're a culture of extremes, not of moderation. When I was a kid, I used to hear "there are givers and there are takers in this world." (This was usually followed by either the compliment "and you are a giver," or the insult "you are a taker.")

I think more people need to learn to do both. To be fair to others and fair to themselves. Helping others is a wonderful gift, but not if you're doing it in order to feel good about yourself. Then it can almost be like an addictive drug, and you can hurt yourself and make yourself less useful to others in the long run.

I would have been able to stay in the helping professions longer, if I hadn't decided that sleep and health were acceptable sacrifices. In the long-run I short-changed not only myself, but all of the people I wanted to help.
Omg....we have ALOT in common. I do feel like I have this need to be caring towards others and to be needed. I do feel that if I am not needed or wanted, then I am not sure of what purpose I serve, ya know? I think that loving myself would realize that being alive for me, and me alone, is good enough. That could be one description of self-love. However, I do feel that my importance is based upon my place in the world, how I help others, if I am needed (or wanted) by others, if I contribute anything good. That kind of thing.
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Old 01-11-2011, 10:04 PM   #7
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I think part of the Serenity Prayer sums my thoughts up pretty eloquently:

"Accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference."

Meeting those criteria = loving oneself (in my opinion, anyway)
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Old 01-11-2011, 10:25 PM   #8
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I think that I usually put other people's needs before mine, even though I consider myself a pretty strong-willed and assertive type person.

I do admit that I don't make the time to do things like putting more effort into how I look, or more pampering type things...makes me think that I should take a nice hot bubble bath tonight.
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I get a smiley for every 5lbs. lost!

02/23-318lbs. 03/23 - 309lbs! 9lbs lost in 1 month!
01/01- 305lbs. New Year! 1st goal -- get below 300lbs!
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Old 01-21-2011, 02:52 AM   #9
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For me, it means avoiding from upset, having good rest, keeping in good health.
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Old 01-21-2011, 07:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaplods View Post
Yes there are a lot of selfish people, but there are also people who put themselves last in their life. Everyone else's needs come before their own.

I was taught to be that kind of person. I was taught that it was just what women were supposed to do - do good in the world and take care of everyone else.

Until I got sick, I always worked two jobs, mostly in social service, teaching and in law enforcement (as a child care worker in a juvenile detention home and as a probation officer. Probation officers at least in my county were 80% life coach/counselor and only 20% law enforcement).

I did volunteer work and even my jobs were about taking care of others.

I wasn't a saint. Far from it, because I didn't fully realize that helping others was a choice. The gifts I gave weren't usually an anonymous gift where no one knew but me, so I fed off the joy I could bring others. That can be it's own type of selfishness - living vicariously through others.

Don't get me wrong, I still like that kind of giving and there's nothing worng with it. It feels wonderful to know you're helping someone (even if they don't appreciate it at the time). I loved when I'd run into someone I'd helped years later and they told me how I'd helped them.

But too much of my joy in life came from helping. I burnt the candle at both ends. I wasn't lacking confidence, or self-esteem, or even self-love. I liked the person I was, and I thought I was taking care of myself, but I was still putting myself dead-last more often than not.

Food was my main "guilty pleasure," the one way I took care of myself (but I really wasn't. I was responding to my emotional needs, not my physical ones).

I think my helping others was more selfish than I realized. It was filling my need to nurture. I was giving away what I needed from others. I lived vicariously through the people I helped. Even among my friends, I was always the one everyone went to for advice and a shoulder to cry on. I didn't know how to cry on anyone else's shoulder (I convinced myself that I didn't need anyone to do that for me - food was my emotional support system).

Loving yourself and loving others is about balance. Finding a way to meet your own needs and the needs of others. Some people need to learn to take, and others need to learn to give, and many people need to learn balance.

Balance isn't popular in the world today. We're a culture of extremes, not of moderation. When I was a kid, I used to hear "there are givers and there are takers in this world." (This was usually followed by either the compliment "and you are a giver," or the insult "you are a taker.")

I think more people need to learn to do both. To be fair to others and fair to themselves. Helping others is a wonderful gift, but not if you're doing it in order to feel good about yourself. Then it can almost be like an addictive drug, and you can hurt yourself and make yourself less useful to others in the long run.

I would have been able to stay in the helping professions longer, if I hadn't decided that sleep and health were acceptable sacrifices. In the long-run I short-changed not only myself, but all of the people I wanted to help.
As a fellow "reformed social worker" I can really relate to what you are saying.

Putting your needs first when appropriate is self love.
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Old 01-21-2011, 08:49 AM   #11
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I asked that same question here a while ago and got some interesting replies:

Loving yourself - what does that mean to you?

I think ckatgo's take on it is at least one part of the puzzle: putting your needs first when appropriate.
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Old 01-21-2011, 09:05 AM   #12
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I like the above post that mentions the word, Balance. That is such an important word to me when I think of truly loving myself--and being at peace with myself and my body.

I can say I didn't love myself as I started my journey. Fake it 'till you make it if you can muster nothing else. It has worked for me.
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Old 01-21-2011, 09:06 AM   #13
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Loving myself is accepting the good and the bad. The good dont want to change that and for the bad well if it is affecting me or others need to find a way to change it if not learn to accept.

We all want to be perfect or be viewed as perfect but what is perfection really. I am an artist, it is my profession and through introspection and studying composition I tend to say that beauty is in the imperfections. Each flaw we have in our body or personality have some beauty in it. It is a question of finding that beauty and work with it.

So yes to me loving myself is just that finding the beauty within
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Old 03-06-2011, 03:22 AM   #14
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I have been thinking a lot about what loving myself really means. I have been taking more time for myself, putting more effort into my hair, make-up, appearance, being more girly, in general. Something I am not really known for.

I think that for the loving myself part, I need to do better when it comes to male friendships. I have always been the kind of gal to do things by myself---eat dinner in a restaurant by myself, go to the movies by myself, etc. So, I am ok with doing this solo. But, lately, I have been feeling a tad bit on the blue side, so, I have been talking to some guys whom, to be honest, I don't think really care for me one iota. But, I don't have any other guys interested in me, so, I feel like I will talk to the guys who don't really care in more of a "friendship mode". Yeah, and the guys don't tend to be into that, so.....sigh. It can make things awkward at times. And sometimes they get into that whole "Let's date again" mode. Ugh.

I have been single for long periods in my life, so, I am not unfamiliar with that. I just don't want to be single at this point in my life, if that makes sense? It seems like everywhere I turn, women are pregnant and getting married. I know I am not 100% in the showing love for myself, if I am allowing people who aren't so nice to me to still talk to me, etc. I need to be better at just hanging out with myself and ignoring guys who have been somewhat abusive in the past.

I think that focusing on doing the best that I can, taking care of my health, my life, my appearance, etc., would be a good way to show that I love myself.
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Old 03-06-2011, 12:47 PM   #15
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anyone who's ever been in a bad relationship, and that's a huge number of people, can tell you that you can feel lonely even when you're with someone. In the best scenario, a relationship can help your life be more fulfilling.

getting married and having kids bec it feels like everyone else is doing it, that can be a big messy trap esp if you're not really ready for it.

loving myself has come to mean all kinds of complicated things to me, including accepting the parts of me that are light years away from what I would consider perfect, ha. Sometimes the physical side of that question feels like the most important, sometimes not.
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