The way that I see it, there are several different components of self-love: self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-respect. Simply “loving” one’s self can actually lead to selfish, prideful behavior, which is what you definitely don’t want. While I do believe in the power of attraction, it’s important to keep in mind that intentions are everything. Self-love for the sake of attracting other people to loving you is not the way to go. You have to love yourself as what you are, but in a humble and respectful way.
Self-confidence in one’s abilities is extremely important. I myself have gotten rather cocky in the past about my writing abilities and advanced skills in that area. However, as it is the case with everything, there is always going to be someone better than you at any given thing. So it’s important to learn from those that are better than you in order to improve yourself. Then it is also important to figure out how someone else is actually better. Is it approach? Is it being well-versed in a topic that you’re not? Is it a particular process that you never considered? You need to educate yourself about your betters and not simply blindly admire them, or worse, be envious and jealous of them.
Self-esteem is perhaps a term you’ve heard so often that you’re probably sick of hearing it. This is how Bing defines self-esteem:
“Self-esteem is a term used in sociology and psychology to reflect a person's overall emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (for example, "I am competent," "I am worthy") and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame.”
The problem that I have with how many people seem to treat the concept of self-esteem is that this worth almost becomes a dollar value in today’s world. You’re worth so-and-so per hour or so-and-so in yearly salary. That doesn’t sound quite right, but when you consider things in terms of job markets, that’s exactly what happens. People become so tied to their occupations and their self-esteem is tied to their career performance.
Healthy self-esteem when it is tied to how a person respects and cherishes one’s talents and abilities is what you really want. It should never be tied to performance, and when someone struggles, their self-esteem is often attacked instead of nurtured. We need a serious paradigm shift among many school systems and employers to fix this horrible error in our society’s handling of hard-working students and employees.
Self-respect should be self-explanatory. It’s about respecting yourself the way that you are and not letting others attack you in self-deprecating and harmful ways. Think of it as a sort of “respect” shield. If anything, this is the most important part of what I would call true self-love, which is all about taking the way that you respect yourself and extending that respect out to others. Self-love that is not unselfish isn’t truly self-love in my opinion – it’s the worst kind of pride.
The topic of self-love obviously could have an entire book written about it. But I think that people need to be careful when they hear people throwing around the term “self-love” because I’m not sure that those saying it always mean what it should mean. Self-love should be about respecting one’s self and one’s talents and abilities. But it should also about be helping other people to discover that same sort of self-love, as well. That’s what I’m sticking to, and even though I can’t say I’ve come anywhere close to actually mastering self-love, I’m getting there.