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“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

This is what we have been asked to do. Most people focus primarily on the loving thy neighbor portion of the commandment. Naturally, love for your fellow humans is important, but do we really think about “as thyself” and what it means to love thyself? I think this can be a bit more of a challenge for people.

There are many different kinds of love: Romantic love, parental love, sibling love, filial love. And then there is self love. All are important. I think romantic love gets the most focus in our contemporary society in media and culture. We also see portrayals of familial and friendship love. Self love is trickier. We do not want to be seen as arrogant, or the one with a swelled head. But loving yourself does not have to mean you are a stuck up narcissist or someone with no empathy who is only out for number one.

Self love can also be an act of love toward those we love outside of ourselves. How can we be our best spouse, parent, child, or sibling, if we are so depleted we have nothing to give. That is what makes self care so important and makes acts of self love actually auxiliary acts of kindness to those around us. Realizing this can help us get out of the mindset that self love is self-ish. They are not necessarily the same thing.

Take some time to be kind to yourself. Strive for excellence rather than perfection. And do not beat yourself up if you do fail. Remember it is okay to be vulnerable in certain situations. Celebrate what makes you unique. Eat a piece of Valentine’s Day chocolate if that is what works for you! Share that chocolate with a friend or two…

In the words of Mister Rogers, a great champion of love and source of wisdom, “there are many ways to say I love you.” Express those ways to yourself and those around you. Not just your romantic partners. Let your friends and siblings and children know how much you love them, too. Reaching out to those around you is not only an act of loving thy neighbor but also another form of self care. As humans, we are inherently social creatures who thrive on connection. Good for those around us is good for us as well. If we each do this, like tiny chips of glass in a mosaic, we will create a beautiful picture for the world.

by Julie Morse

Community questions

Feel free to answer any of these questions or ask your own question below!

1. What are ways that you self love?

2. What would you tell a person who wants to work on self love to do?

3. How do you spread love to those around you?

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