Written by Evi Idoghor
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He answered saying "You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment, greater than these." The second part of the commandment is what I am highlighting today—the need for us to love ourselves first before extending that love to others.
What Is Self-Love?
Self-love is defined as the regard for one's own well-being and happiness (according to Google). From this definition, we can see that loving ones self, is directly related to well-being and happiness. So it is safe to say that if you don’t love yourself, it negatively affects your overall well-being.
I was watching a video some time ago, and the speaker shared a story of how he was friends with a lady who was in an unhealthy relationship. This said girl was dating a guy who was openly cheating on her with multiple women. She complained to her friend, revealing she was sick of the whole situation and didn't know what else to do about it. Eventually, she broke up with him and moved forward with her life.
About six months later, she met a new man, who basically worshiped the ground she walked upon. He showed her love, care, and what it meant to be valued and treasured in a relationship. She met up with her friend again, highlighting these great qualities in the new man, however, was unexcited. She felt there was no conflict in the relationship, she missed fighting off women, as such, she went back to her ex-boyfriend who treated her poorly.
Now, that is someone who does not love herself or knows how to. It appears that she preferred dysfunction to a healthy relationship, which shows that there is a lot of brokenness in her life. Maybe a dysfunctional relationship was modeled to her as a loving relationship while growing up, who knows?
This is how some people end up married to those who don’t care about their well-being. You have to learn to love and value yourself first before you can be able to extend that love and value to others.
Why is self-love important?
1) It helps boost your productivity: if you don’t love yourself, it shows up in every aspect of your life. That low self-esteem you carry spills into other relationships (friends, family, work) and can affect your productivity levels.
2) It fosters self-respect: When you are unaware that you don't love yourself, you allow others to treat you with so much disrespect. A lack of self-respect stems from the lack of love you have for yourself. Lack of self-love, means you don’t know you are valuable. So you accept any Tom, Dick, or Harry that comes your way. However, if you love yourself, you will be able to weed out those who are not supposed to be in your life, making room for healthy people to come in.
3) It fosters good mental health: mental health is another term that is crucial in today's world. When people begin to spiral out of control, we are often left pondering what led them down that path. Mental health issues can be related to a lack of self-love and awareness, although not the only deciding factor. If you don’t love yourself, you tend to attract the wrong people and circumstances into your life. These wrong people and situations tend to define you, which in turn affects your mental health.
How Can We Love Ourselves?
We can learn to love ourselves by resting in the love God has for us. The Bible says that God loved us first, so we can love Him. When we rest in His love, we begin to see that we are valuable. So don't devalue yourself or let others do that to you. His love was demonstrated to us when He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die for us. Once we can accept this greatest demonstration of love, then we can love God, love ourselves, and love others.
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All images are courtesy of Unsplash