What Is the True Meaning of Self-Love?

Have you ever wished you could rewind time and change or erase your past? Perhaps you were ridiculed as a child or stayed in an abusive relationship for too long. Or maybe you put yourself through something that negatively impacted you and your loved ones. Now you’ve spent all these years thinking yourself unworthy of love. But why do you believe that? Nobody deserves to feel that way about themselves. Therefore, we must understand the meaning of self-love to prevent these feelings from dictating our lives.

What is Self-Love?

Too many of us struggle with the concept of self-love because we believe it to be selfish or narcissistic. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Self-love is about caring for your well-being and treating yourself with the same kindness and respect as another person. It’s showing yourself that you are worthy and deserving of good things.

Practicing self-love isn’t always easy, especially for those who’ve searched their entire lives. Yet, people are more capable and resilient than they give themselves credit for.

Where Does Self-Love Begin?

As children, we rely on the foundation of our parents or caretakers to love us unconditionally. It builds safety, security, and self-confidence. But when this doesn’t occur, children struggle to understand their worth. For example, if a child is constantly corrected or can’t ever win their parent’s praise or affection, they are left wondering if they’re loveable.  

Children do not have the abstract thinking as adults do. In other words, they don’t understand why people do what they do. Therefore, they tend to hold themselves accountable for their parent’s actions. For instance, a child might think their “behaviour” causes their parents to abuse them. However, how can any child be responsible for an adult’s behaviour?

Why Is Self-Love Important?

As humans, we all require the necessity of love from others. Still, it must come from within first. Otherwise, we will seek love in all the wrong places, which can’t fill an internal void. For example, people who lack self-love are more prone to be in unhealthy or abusive relationships. They may be people pleasers or perfectionists. Or perhaps they turn to substances to avoid feeling poorly about themselves.

In comparison, people with self-love have higher self-esteem and are more self-confident. They are less critical of themselves, know how to set boundaries, and will not settle for less than their worth.

What’s the Difference Between Self-Love Vs. No Self-Love?

Loving oneself doesn’t mean people won’t have challenges or will always be upbeat. Still, people with self-love bounce back more quickly than those without self-love. So, let’s look at the differences between the two.


  • Forgiving your mistakes
  • Praising yourself
  • Being assertive
  • Challenging yourself
  • Doing nice things for yourself (e.g., taking a lavender bath, eating a treat, walking in nature)
  • Not tolerating unjust treatment
  • Feeling worthy of love
  • Surrounding yourself with good people
  • Admitting wrongdoings
  • Comfortable in your shoes

No self-love:

  • Afraid to take chances (i.e., healthy ones)
  • Always doing for others
  • Don’t feel good about yourself
  • Overly critical of yourself
  • Perfectionistic/no room for errors
  • Don’t give yourself credit for anything
  • Staying in unhealthy relationships to avoid being alone
  • Won’t do anything nice for yourself
  • Feeling unworthy of praise from others
  • Not taking care of your health (e.g., drinking heavily)

What Can You Do to Improve Self-Love?

You’re not alone if you’ve been struggling with self-love and don’t know where to begin. So, let’s look at some ways to improve loving yourself.

1. Take care of your health. Our physical and emotional well-being is crucial. Therefore, not eating well, exercising, or following a healthy sleep regimen will affect our overall health. Thus, caring for your health shows your feelings of self-worth.

2. Set boundaries. We have an innate nature to want to help others. Still, we must learn to set limits to take the time needed to care for ourselves. Constantly doing for others and not ourselves is like saying we aren’t enough. And saying no doesn’t mean you’re selfish but that you also deserve to invest time in yourself.

3. Practice self-care. Doing something nice for yourself shows that you care for yourself. So, why not reward yourself if you’ve followed your exercise regimen? Or kick back and watch your favourite show at the end of the day. It’s about doing what makes you feel good.

4. Forgive yourself. No human on this earth is void of mishaps. Yet, some of our greatest lessons are actually from our mistakes. So, if anything, learn from them and give yourself grace rather than beat yourself up.

5. Treat yourself with compassion. Why do we always have more compassion for others than ourselves? For example, you would more than likely treat a friend criticising themselves with the sincerest kindness. But you wouldn’t do the same for yourself. Therefore, treat yourself the way you would a friend.  

6. Surround yourself with positive people. Surrounding ourselves with negative people will only bring us down if we lack self-love. Therefore, we must avoid one-sided relationships or people who drain the life out of us. In contrast, you want people who will support and cheer you on. Allowing positive people in your life shows inner confidence.

7. Find a Support Group. You are not alone, as many individuals struggle with self-love issues. Therefore, having someone who can relate and listen without judgment can make all the difference. One such place is Barty’s Adventures, where they hold special events and adventures to help men feel better about themselves by keeping active, thus improving mental health. Barty – We Are A Mental Health Initiative

8. Seek Therapy. Even with the best intentions, we can’t always do everything alone. So, seeking a trusted therapist can be beneficial to your mental health. They can evaluate your situation, work on treatment goals with you, and help you build the necessary coping skills.

You Are Worthy of Self-Love

Addressing your needs and finding self-love is not selfish but necessary. It’s about setting boundaries and showing yourself and others that you are important, too.

Remember, you can only run on empty for so long doing for others. And it’s not your duty to please people. Therefore, the sooner you realise your inner worth, the quicker you won’t need the reassurance on the outside.

Why Not Try Online Therapy?

Hopefully, these points could give some comfort, but sometimes just reading quotes isn’t enough. Online therapy can be a great option if you or a loved one is looking for more support.

Therapy through BetterHelp.com/Barty can be more affordable than traditional therapy and allows many options to communicate with your therapist from the comfort of your home. Most importantly, remember that it is okay not to be okay, and you are no less of a human for feeling your emotions and being vulnerable.

To receive 25% off your first month, head to BetterHelp.com/Barty

Feel free to drop by if you’d like to chat and just say, ‘Hey Barty,’ in strict confidence, and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or do not hesitate to leave a comment below

Sandy Glover


Sandy is the resident mental health professional at Barty. She previously worked as a therapist, earning a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in counselling. Sandy has transitioned to becoming a peer presenter at several mental health settings through NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Her passion for mental health is evident in her writing as a subject matter expert who draws from personal experience, professional expertise, and education to help eliminate stigma.

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