The Definition of Self Love


Dear Lisa,

Most people who know me think I’ve got my act together. I look like it from the outside. I’ve got the right clothes, the right job, I live in the right neighborhood, and I have all the right friends. However, lately, I feel like things have been falling apart. Frankly, I’ve made a series of very poor choices and the ramifications of those might not be obvious to others, but they sure are to me.

I actually did something at work, that I could get fired for if anyone knew.

I had a conversation with a family member and said some terrible things about my mother. I’m terrified my mother will find out what I said.

I borrowed some money from a friend I’m avoiding because I haven’t paid her back.

I’ve had a series of night stands that have left me feeling horrible about myself.

I could go on, but I won’t bore you. Basically, I’ll just say, I feel like I’m in a downward spiral. I don’t know why I’m doing these things. It doesn’t make any sense. The biggest thing is right now I don’t like myself at all.

There is a lot of talk about “self-love”. I get it on the surface, but at this point, I don’t even come close to liking the person I am. How do you get to a place of loving yourself when it seems so impossible.



Dear Karen,

I will be honest. As a coach, I feel like it might be worth exploring why you’re behaving in a way that doesn’t make sense to you. It seems like these behaviors are out of character and context in your life. Why it’s happening might be very important, and worth some self-exploration. I might encourage you to sit down and do some journaling with some very honest self-inquiry about what might have triggered these behaviors. However, it might not be important at all, because you seem to have a sense of what’s most important, which is self-love.

You’re not alone when it comes to not really understanding self-love. I think everyone is looking for the magic pill to take so you will wake up the next morning recognizing and living your divine nature. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy? It’s not easy, but it is simple.

First of all, if you want to like yourself, you have to start being someone you would like. It sounds to me like you haven’t been meeting your own standard for a likeable person. It also sounds like some of this behavior has been very impulsive. You need to slow down and start asking yourself some very important questions about what you’re about to do next.

Would I respect this choice or behavior?

Would I admire this choice or behavior?

Is this really good for me?

How do I want to feel? Will this choice or behavior make me feel more or less of that?

It might seem simple. However, it’s really quite profound. You need compass points in your life. Without them everything can seem random and disconnected. When you get really clear about how you want to feel, and how you want to feel about yourself, you have very important information to work with. You don’t have to over-analyze. Just take a moment of inquiry and do that inquiry through the lens of how you really want to feel. That doesn’t mean you’ll always make the right decision, but as you get in the habit of at least asking the questions, you’ll start to instinctively make better choices for yourself.

Secondly, I think it’s important to remember, love is a verb. Most people think it’s a feeling, but it’s not. Love itself is a behavior. The fact that you don’t feel like you love yourself right now doesn’t matter at all. What matters is that you aren’t treating yourself like someone you love. Start treating yourself with love and respect and the feelings will follow the behavior.

The very definition of self-love is actually treating yourself like someone you love deeply.

Finally, I don’t know what’s going on with you. What’s clear is, something is going on. Whatever it is, if you can’t forgive yourself, at the very least, you might try having some compassion for yourself. I’d like to suggest that this period of time in your life is probably a period of massive growth. If the thing that comes out of all this chaos is that you learn to treat yourself with love and kindness, then it will all be worth it.

Big love and hugs,


*This letter was shared with permission and names have been changed.


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Lisa Hayes, The Love Whisperer, is an LOA Relationship Coach. She helps clients leverage Law of Attraction to get the relationships they dream about and build the lives they want. Lisa is the author of the newly released hit book, Score Your Soulmate and How to Escape from Relationship Hell and The Passion Plan.

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