Valentine’s Day exists as an annual reminder to show other people how much we love them. A lot of time is spent thinking about others, their needs, and likes, in hopes of making them happy. In the process, we temporarily reduce the amount of focus we place on ourselves. Which brings to the light the question, is this a problem to reduce the amount we focus on ourselves and put our all into making other people happy?
It is only a problem, if you your desire to make other people happy as an act of service isn’t founded on having positive self-love. It is imperative that you have an adequate amount of self-love in order to be effective in serving others and making them feel happy. There is no clear definition of adequate, but is specific to each individual person.
How much do we make it a priority to spend focusing on understanding and improving our self-love? Popular media has been critical against the concept of focusing on own needs. I argue that extremes in either direction may not be helpful, and having an adequately positive and realistic sense of self in order to experience happiness. The truth is that loving yourself is more important than you know and is the gateway to the enhanced ability to serve others, be served by others, and experience happiness.
What is Self-love?
Self-love has many definitions, but somehow has a bad reputation. We you tell someone that they don’t love themselves enough, it carries the connotation that we must be selfish and forgo the interests of others so that our own agenda is carried out. Simply stated, self-love is the love of one’s self, which is different from arrogance.
Study of self love dates back to 1956. Erich Fromm, a psychologist, proposed that loving oneself is not being arrogant, conceited or egocentric, but caring about oneself, taking responsibility for oneself, respecting oneself, and being realistic and honest about one’s strengths and weaknesses. Thinking about self love in this way allows for thinking more about our abilities, desires, motives, and areas of improvement.
Why is Self-love Important?
When you love yourself in a way that is balanced your awareness of your needs are clear and you are good about making sure your needs are met. Others perceive you as humble and confident, and they want to be connected to you. Loving yourself transfers to love for those around us and you benefit from the social construct referred to as social reciprocity.
Social reciprocity means that in response to friendly actions, people are nicer and much more cooperative than they would be in general. This differs from having too much or too little self-love and self-interest. This also works in the opposite way. When you are negative, people respond to you with hostility, negativity, and aggression. People are motivated to interact in constructive ways with other people by feelings about them, thoughts about them, and behaviors towards them.
What Happens When We Don’t Love Ourselves?