Real Self-Love – 3 Behaviors to Develop


When we have learned to love ourselves either through, adaptive parenting, great substitutes or surrogate parents, God’s love, loving ourselves or learning self love through some other love from another source, we have the ability to learn the power and priority that loving ourselves should take in our lives and its relationship to loving others.

We have heard the phrase “love yourself first” ad nauseum and many of us can believe that we’re living this precept only to find weeds growing in our lives because the reality is, self love isn’t part of the equation at all.

Self Love has many shades and definitions, but the constant in its measurement can be found in the portrait which is our life – the living breathing canvas of all the decisions we make day to day that result in either a living life of integrity and meaning or having evidence of a life that will live and die by the ego.

Let’s quickly dismiss what loving ourselves isn’t: It isn’t loud, it doesn’t prove or justify, it doesn’t require approval or attention of others, it doesn’t seek to gain advantage, have power over, compete with or harm others. It’s not superficial, it doesn’t shirk responsibility, it doesn’t ask us to lie, hide or pretend.

“Climb the mountain to see the world, Not so  the world can see you”

The things I’ve just described are called “loving ourselves” but its clear to see these are just ego stroking, attention seeking behaviors which serve to substitute with ego, what’s lacking in the person’s identity. It’s ego building in absence of true character possession.

When we genuinely love ourselves, it is evident in the fruit we bear, the type of things we’ll say yes and no to, and the type of people we will allow in our lives. We can’t give lip service to being a healthy, self respecting person with self worth, while simultaneously having an extramarital affair with a narcissist who abuses us. The two can’t co-exist. The ACTIONS gain credence while the words are seen as the mute drivel of a hypocrite.

Let’s look at the actions which indicate that we are truly loving ourselves:

1. Self – Honesty

This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth as it pertains to ourselves inside and out. We all have issues. But we don’t say, we all have issues to AVOID addressing them…we say it…and then we EXPLORE them.

Digging into yourself – really admitting what’s there and then doing something about it takes COURAGE and responsibility.

It takes the vulnerability to say, “I dont think Im as together as I previously thought I was”. “I think I need to admit this about myself, because it’s hurting others / myself”. “I am not always nice. Sometimes, Im downright mean. I mean well, but my intentions don’t matter here, my behavior does.”

One of the main reasons narcissists are incapable of loving themselves and thus others is that they aren’t able to be self honest and do something with it; they can’t suspend their shame, perfectionism and ego drives long enough to give a realistic appraisal of themselves and effect any change.
Not being perfect is NOT a crime, despite having learned that to be less than perfect to a narcissist IS a crime. Reality dictates here – PEOPLE ARE IMPERFECT. Sometimes in BIG WAYS (like narcissists) and sometimes in normal ways – like most people.

Understanding ourselves, knowing who we are and who we aren’t, having a realistic self appraisal and acceptance of ourselves as a blend of good and not so good qualities are key ingredients of healthy self love.

2. Having Appropriate levels of responsibility
This goes back to the serenity prayer precept of, having the “courage to change the things we can” – ourselves.

When we are accurately aware of what is ours to fix and what is NOT ours to fix, we will have the right amount of time to devote our energy to the things we “should”.

When we are busy working on our feelings, our thoughts, our actions and our words, we honestly just don’t have much time left for what everyone else is doing.

It all comes back to how we respond to things anyway. Even learning about narcissism isn’t so that we can “help” the narcissist but rather about learning enough to help ourselves (and other survivors).

When we aren’t trying to fix others, we can get busy with the business of fixing ourselves.

3. Establishing Boundaries that Affirm and Protect Our Worth
Boundaries are so fundamental to our self concept that a whole section alone can be devoted to boundaries as it pertains to self love.
In brief, there are decisions that we make every second that involve our boundaries. When we choose between one thing we like and one we don’t, we are establishing our identity. When we make it a conscious, constant decision to be committed to a life of integrity, we will be diligent about our choices (or boundaries). We make choices about what we wear, what we eat, who we talk to, how we talk, how we let others talk to us, that show us without much in-depth psycho analysis EXACTLY who we are.

Behavior doesnt lie and neither do our choices.

When we love ourselves, our choices and thus behavior will reflect and indicate that we do. If I say I value myself, but my behavior illustrates that Im willing to defile my body, beat up on myself about my flaws, or remain in the company of someone who’s lifestyle and values I don’t respect, then I’ve got some self reflection to perform.

Loving ourselves by setting healthy boundaries would look more like this:
Not talking to someone of the opposite sex who is married, giving myself enough rest when Im tired or stressed, walking away when someone raises their voice at me or verbally abuses me.

Knowing our limits and adhering to them, keeps us in line with our values and sense of integrity. Walking the walk over talking the talk, gives us a life that reflects we know ourselves and value ourselves enough to make healthy choices, despite the temptations.

By tending to our own lives; our Honesty, Responsibility and having appropriate boundaries, we can guarantee that the choices we make will bring into our lives an abundance of life giving friendships, jobs, mates and experiences.

Everyday let’s strive to make the sometimes tough choices, say what we truly mean and want in our lives and say no without explaining why we want what we want. We are the gatekeepers for what enters our life; if someone negative has slipped in, we must take responsibility for giving them the boot, and SWIFTLY!

Posted on October 19, 2014, in Narcissism. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Hi i think I have been abused, we were dating once and we broke up, he always came back and he would say all those sweet things knowing i would give in and sleep with him and after we have slept together he would tell me how i messed up our relationship because i did not know how to keep my mouth shut. I always asked him about the girls he is seeing in his life and he would get angry or turned off. Moreover he would tell me what an imperfect body i have, how people always compliment him on how he wears and the car he drives. I would distance myself for a few weeks until he comes back, i knew what he was doing, i saw the girls he brought in, different girls week in week out, my family disapproved and told me he was bad for me,what is wrong with me for taking him back in even after he has told me that he has another girlfriend and has moved on. Sad thing is i always and still blame myself because i think if i kept quite, if i did not ask we would still be okay, i don’t know whether this is love or obsession. I have been in this situation for a year now, just recently i found out that i
    pregnant, i told him and instead he said i am to blame because i never said no to him, he said i should do abortion, he told me he would still bring his girlfriends and female friends over to his place no matter i am pregnant or not. Sometimes i feel like i am losing my mind, i cry each and everyday, at work, home and ohh live next door to him. I feel used, stupid, dirty, ashamed of myself and indeed i blame myself because i never said no even though i knew clearly, i mean i knew and saw everything, but when he phoned or smsed me i would go to him.


    • Young Lady, You deserve to be treated with honor and respect. Now that you have a baby in the mix, you must put the babies needs ahead of your own. This boy/man boyfriend if he is acting like this now, it will only get worse with time. He disrespects you And your baby! That’s not ok. Don’t respond to his calls. Focus on YOU being healthy and together with your baby being well. One day you will meet someone who will love you and not treat you so badly . Then you will look back and say to yourself, OMG, can you imagine how awful my life would be if I had stayed with HIM? ( baby daddy) you have your entire life ahead of you. He is not the ONLY choice you will have. You do not have to choose your life partner when you are so young. Give yourself time for your life to unfold before you. And congratulations on your baby blessing! God Bless!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What if the negative person is your mother, how do I choose to love myself and be honest with myself, as this would mean not having her in my life due to her nascissistic behaviours. My life us not genuine because I am trying so hard to keep things balanced. its the same with my ex husband, I try so hard ti keep the peace to my own detriment. Being


    • Going no-contact is a very difficult but very real option if you need it at any point in your life. It’s important to me that people are aware of this option, even if they never choose to do it. It sounds almost like you feel you have to be in contact with your abusers, which you don’t; if you choose to have relationships with them, it should be your conscious, free choice, and you can’t trust your “yes” unless you know that saying “no” is also a real option. For some of us it is the only way to be fully honest and loving toward ourselves. I am not saying that you *should* go no-contact with your mother or your ex, but I want you to know that the option is there, and it is not an option reserved for cold, uncaring people or even for people who cannot love their abusive family members due to the sheer amount of abuse they have endured. (I point this out because this is what I once imagined – I did not think I would ever go no-contact with my abusive family.)

      I’d like to share a bit of my story, for you and anyone else who might benefit. I stayed in contact with my narcissistic mother for over 30 years. Although she often treated me as though I were something she’d wiped off the sole of her shoe, she had provided for me materially as a child and young adult, everyone else in my life insisted she loved me and “lived for me,” and I had the natural inclination of any child to love and trust my mother and depend on her, no matter how many thousands of times she abused me physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, financially, and sexually. Many people had told me I should go no-contact, and I told them to mind their own business. You only have one mother, I thought, and I’m not about to give up hope of a positive relationship with mine just because someone else is tired of me being depressed after I’ve talked to her on the phone or visited her or had a flashback about her.

      The time eventually came in my early thirties when life put me in a position where I had to make some choices. I was beginning a family of my own; I had made a solemn commitment to my intended life partner, and at this point due to my faith I had to put my partner’s needs and our relationship above my mother’s opinions. This was not my personal preference; it was a teaching I had learned from the church – once you’ve found the person you plan to start a family with, you can’t let anybody interfere no matter who they are or how well-intentioned; specifically, in-laws need to butt out, otherwise there’s just no hope of a solid relationship. Needless to say my mother didn’t care for this as it took control of my every move out of her hands. She insisted I had to change some plans I’d made with my fiance, and when I refused, she disowned me. She may have been bluffing, but I took it seriously. A short time later when she started sending me a bizarre mixture of warm and fuzzy greeting cards and abusive voice mails trying to lure me back in, I didn’t go for it. I realized there was no future in going back to her. I’d never have a life of my own.

      I didn’t want things to come to this, but the more I understand narcissism, the more I realize it was my only hope of living any sort of a life. Yes, I lost my mother. Yes, I lost the rest of my family too, since she has everyone she knows scared out of their wits and they all believe everything she says (or at least act like it) and obey her every command. Life is still not easy but in the years since I went no-contact, I have learned to breathe – to be myself and not constantly be on edge. There’s hope for me, even though some days it feels faint and distant. It’s a hard, hard choice, but it was the only thing I could do in integrity, with love for myself, and even if my mother had loved me in some sense, it would’ve been no replacement for being in my own corner.

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