There are many ways to ‘love’. We can love our parents, spouses, partners, children, friends…most of the time. There is being in love. There is loving New York or London or Rome or Tokyo. There is the love of reading. The love of collecting. The love of cooking. Love. In many forms. There is of course the one type of love that most of us crave. The one that, before being able to give any type of love, is necessary. The one that people struggle with the most. Self-love.

Lack of self-love is insidious – this being insidious is worrying. Lack of self-love can creep up on you, created by many toxic relationships and environments. Suddenly, you change from a person who respected themselves to a person who has limited self-love. Or it can be so vicious that it impacts you immediately. Which is worse? Both. Why? Because lack of self-love shouldn’t exist.

Lack of self-love can be pestilent – it is capable of being passed onto others because a person who lacks self-love can spew vitriol and cause others to despise themselves. It is destructive. It is as damaging as an after-effect of an earthquake as it damages the self, and others, in the process. Lack of self-love equates to self-loathing. Self-loathing. Say that again. Self-loathing. Feel the sentiment as you say these two words. Pernicious. Self-loathing manifests in many forms, and on a spectrum – from self-doubt and imposter syndrome to the absolute extreme…war. War on oneself. War on others. War on a nation. War.

Self-loathing is a Freudian dream. In fact, it is any self-loathing individual’s dream. Why? Well, we watch others get destroyed by the most destroyed – the one who self-loathes. Think about this – when we are at work, at home, somewhere, and someone is rude and demeaning to us, what do we do? We wonder what we have done wrong. Well, here’s the truth. A person’s behaviour reflects what they are going through and usually, on some spectrum, it relates to self-love. Or should we say, lack of self-love.

So, how do we overcome this? Well, we be ‘love’. We look at the world with love. We notice the beauty in everything – from a leaf falling off a tree in Autumn, to the cleanliness of a street, to the smile on someone else’s face, to the appreciation in someone’s eyes, to the crash of a wave on a shoreline, to a lightning strike in the sky, to a beautiful meal that is presented to us. And when we do this…we smile. We break the intangible hostility in others and their actions, and we say a secret prayer to let their Maker help them because hey, we can’t save the world. You read that correctly – we can’t save the world. We can only come together with ‘love’ and emanate an energy that will conquer the self-loathers. Is this easy? No. In fact, that is a hard ‘no’.

Now, we can control the things like noticing a smile or appreciating a good meal. This can help us pause and notice beauty. Beauty is all around us and that means it is within us. Carl Jung espouses that what we see in others is what is in ourselves (sorry about those ‘irritating’ behaviours…this is when we realise that we are like our parents….). What about the things we can’t control? The strife in the world. The crappy attitude of the shop assistant. The explosive anger from our co-workers and bosses? To manage this, it is important to practice two things. Firstly, let it go. Whatever comes from their attitude toward you is a message from the universe. A lesson in life. Learn the lesson. It may be a tough lesson yet learn it or you will repeatedly face the same lesson or similar situation. Secondly, it is about knowing your worth. What respect does hostility show us? Zero. Why should we sacrifice our sanctity for the despise of others? No matter the situation, walk away from anything that destroys your own self-love.

There is another important lesson that we should all learn…somewhere in the world, there is someone who respects us and admires us, and watches how we react to situations. It can be our children. It can be our friends. It can be a distant colleague. To emanate self-love, we need to be self-love. We need to own our space. We need to step into an area of zero tolerance to lack of self-love. If we do this, we will most likely positively influence at least one person. Imagine the impact on the world if we do this as a collective.

Love – yourself and others.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those who face adversity. This we know is true – love, in all forms, wins.

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