Embracing Self-Love after Religious Trauma

Let’s talk about self-love.
I was taught that it was bad. It was drilled into me that the only one I was to love was God.

Then others as myself.
Wait! What? As myself?

I was young when I saw the discrepancy and guessed a solution: There’s a connection on how well I love others to how well I love myself.

love yourself cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

Cartoon description: A woman says, “I’m ready for love. Where do I start?” Jesus says, “Yourself.”

Immersed in a religious culture that condemned self-love, I secretly started loving myself.

I fell in love with Lisa.
Then our kids.

What does self-love look like?
It’s more than feeling good about yourself.

Love is actionable.

Here’s what my love for my kids looks like:

I want to be with them.
I’m comfortable with them.
I think the best of them. 
I believe they can do what they put their minds to.
I know they’re winners who can fail rather than losers who can’t succeed.
I trust they have good hearts and will make the world better.
I listen to them when they struggle and give them space to grow.
I think positively of them and speak to them in encouraging and motivational ways.
I nurture a caring culture where they are free to become their best selves and succeed.

Now, apply all the above to yourself!

Are you comfortable being with yourself?
Do you think the best of yourself?
Do you think you can do anything you put your mind to?
Do you consider yourself a winner?
Do you trust you have a good heart?
Do you give yourself space to struggle?
Do you think positively of yourself?
Do you nurture a caring culture for yourself?

This is how you can love yourself.

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1 comment

Some years ago I asked the pastor of the church about self-love. He clearly didn’t know and didn’t appreciate the question.
The breakthrough for me was when I eventually substituted the word “respect” for “love”.
I realize respect is only part of love but it was important for me.
I started to respect my feelings – and my right to have them.
I learned to respect my abilities and my good qualities.
I learned to quit letting other people project their crap on me (most of the time).
There’s still lots to learn and apply but it’s progress.


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