Healthy Beginnings

A Jungian view of self-love

Self-love is rooted in the recognition that the universe put you here for a reason. Photo: Shutterstock

You have probably heard the adage that you can’t really love someone else until you have learned to love yourself. For most people this statement resonates at an intuitive level; it has a ring of truth to it. And yet, defining what it means to love oneself is not so easy, and actually doing it can be even harder.

Jungian psychologist Barbara Hannah states that in order to love oneself you must become “a fit vessel for the eternal Self.” What does this mean? I believe it means to see your life as the home, or abode, of a special potential, a gift to be developed and shared with others. It is to recognize that your life matters and that you have a particular contribution to make to the world.

Hannah cautions that self-love is not self-indulgence. It is not rendering service or homage to the ego. Rather, it is rooted in the recognition that your life has relevance, that the universe put you here for a reason. It expects something of you because it placed something of great value within you.

An individual who is learning to love themself is a person that is becoming more conscious of their responsibility for the life they’ve been given or, more specifically, for that which is most valuable within themselves — their soul.

Thus, self-love goes hand-in-hand with self-responsibility. To have self-love is to recognize that something very valuable and unique resides within you, deserves and needs your nurturance, protection, and cultivation.

Hannah states that true self-love is one of the hardest things to achieve for it involves a willingness to suffer for something greater than your self — the unique individual you were created to be.

Sometimes we lack self-love because as children our relevance and value was never really mirrored or conveyed to us. Sometimes we have done things we regret or are ashamed of and do not feel worthy of love — we don’t like ourselves.

In other cases, we lack self-love because we aren’t sure we want to shoulder the responsibility that comes with the recognition that a breath of God and goodness resides within us.

Self-love is not a feeling so much as an attitude. It is self-respect more than self-esteem. Ultimately, it is a sense of calling with the courage to pursue it.

References: Hannah, Barbara. Striving Towards Wholeness. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. NY. 1971.

For more information, contact Dr. Andy Drymalski, Reno and Carson City psychologist, at 775-527-4585 or www.renocarsonpsychologist.com. Enjoy his blog at Jungstop.com.