Don’t Love Yourself!

'At last, true love!'

Oh, all right, I admit my title is a ruse. But I really am tired of seeing motivational posts telling us to love ourselves. Why? Because we don’t need to learn to love ourselves.

We need to learn to like ourselves. In a sense, people who commit suicide love themselves too much–so much that they’re profoundly crushed when they fail at fulfilling their hopes. They can like and accept others, despite their failings, but not themselves.

Self-like is a hard-shelled nut. It doesn’t crack for motivational slogans: “You’re the greatest!” (“Oh, shut up, I’ve accomplished nothing today!”) Why? Because we’re born with an inner compass that relentlessly points true north, refusing to let us settle for cotton candy imitations.North Pole candy

I have a dear friend, Michelle, who grew up during the peak of the self-esteem movement. Her mother told her non-stop how “special” she was, praising even her most insignificant accomplishments. By the time she’d reached young adulthood, Michelle was hopelessly jaded. She was convinced that, 1) nothing she accomplished mattered because “special” had no real meaning, and, 2) she was incapable of actually accomplishing anything of real value. I have never met another person who disliked themselves as deeply as she does.

The slogan-driven self-esteem movement started to crumble in the 1990s as more and more clinical studies showed that only measurable accomplishments have the ability to produce authentic self-esteem. And yet the false premise—say it often enough and you’ll believe it—is still with us today.

I struggled with serious anxiety as a young adult. Each night I would lie awake, terrified at the prospect of being alone with the one person I least trusted: myself. I loved myself (too much, really), but I didn’t like myself.

In the book of Genesis, God tells Cain, after the rage-filled young man has killed his brother, “If you do not do what is right, sin crouches at your door. Its desire is for you—but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7) And then God does something remarkable: he places a mark on Cain’s forehead, not a mark of guilt (as some mistakenly believe), but a mark of protection. It’s God’s way of saying, “There’s a long journey ahead, but I am with you.”

The sweet nut of self-liking is hard to crack, but it’s worth the effort. And, perhaps surprisingly, unlike navel-gazing “love yourself” affirmations, the key to self-liking is others. No accomplishment brings such inner peace as service. The number one weapon against depression is service. Which is one of the reasons Jesus commanded us to love others “as yourself.” He knew we already loved ourselves. The key was to turn that love outward. To accomplish something worthy, something that might even cause us to…

Like ourselves!

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
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54 Responses to Don’t Love Yourself!

  1. Pingback: Learning to Love My Broken Self | Mitch Teemley

  2. There is much wisdom here! Sadly, slogans – mostly vacuous but grandiose sounding ones – are taking over the world. :-(d

    Liked by 7 people

  3. Yes! Lee Warren, a “kid” of 50, wrote a devotional called “Finishing Well.” Compelling things to think about. Now I just started working through “What Will They Say About You When You are Gone?” by Rabbi Daniel Cohen. (Wish I could remember who put me onto this one.) Gist: Eyes on God, watching for your unique assignment, to be a blessing to another human. Service. lump in throat

    Liked by 7 people

  4. This led me asking: “Do I like myself?” ☺️

    Service. Yes! The way of God.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Pingback: Don’t Love Yourself! | Cyber Support Group

  6. This week I heard about an elementary school teacher who brought a full-length mirror to her classroom and had each of her students tell themselves things like “I’m awesome” and “I can do anything.” The old lie of self-esteem without having accomplished anything is alive and well.

    My wife has a close friend who struggles with depression (non-clinical), and my wife has repeatedly told her to volunteer more and more. However, for the most part, it doesn’t seem to spur her friend on, and she remains largely “stuck.” This affirms another thing you wrote: “The number one weapon against depression is service.” Amen, and amen!

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Gary Fultz says:

    Love the header picture Mitch. phenomenal.
    When I like others (to the point of being useful) I get to tag along and be liked by me. Love it. I have a file for posts like this to reread. When I do my post “confessions of a cracked nut” I’ll reference it. Ironically I only have bits, pieces and too much coffee so far. sigh…

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Thank you for sharing the wisdom, Mitch! Have a beautiful weekend, and a blessed Sunday! xx Michael

    Liked by 4 people

  9. jeffrockwood says:

    Knowing the difference between “Self-Love” and “Selfless-Love” will make one’s journey through life so much more a blessing for you and others. Thanks Mitch!

    Liked by 6 people

  10. K.L. Hale says:

    What a wise and wonderful post, Mitch! We’ve all been set up at various times in our lives. My thoughts about “self-care” parallel your thoughts on self-love. Women reading this, please don’t take this wrong. But in an effort to make women FEEL better about themselves we post about “just be you!” And while being you, make sure you create a reel each day that focuses only on filming yourself (we have to be seen and not heard)–then slowly the self-doubt and low self-esteem creep back in to cause anxiety issues because of all the self-love going on with the self-care! I LONG to see more selflessness. And I really learned to like myself when I quit trying to love myself and failing. It was then that God’s love, and of course my family’s, became the filler in my void. I’ve really learned to like myself; my quirkiness and all! Thank you for being such an encourager and truth teller!

    Liked by 5 people

  11. wynneleon says:

    Brilliant perspective, beautifully written! Thank you, Mitch!

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I like this a lot. So true, and well-written!

    Liked by 4 people

  13. pastorpete51 says:

    Amen. The key is service aka ” the mind of Christ”

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Wise words here, Mitch. Our service to others doesn’t have to be on a grand scale, either. It’s amazing how even a small favor can create feel-good endorphins.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. joyroses13 says:

    A post full of wisdom that needs to be heard! Thanks!

    Liked by 4 people

  16. In the year 2000 I lost both my career and marriage–all in one summer. Overwhelmed with hopelessness and despair, I decided to jump off a very tall bridge. In no sense, at that particular moment, did I love myself too much. Quite simply, I was almost totally overwhelmed with the seeming utter demise of my life as I knew it. Everyone has a rock bottom. And I found mine. But self love (or like) had little to do with it. Of course, this is only my experience.

    Liked by 4 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      I understand, David. It may simply be a matter of semantics. The point is, whatever anyone calls it, I suspect, you felt you couldn’t go on living with yourself. I’ve been there. So glad God turned both of our lives around.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Thanks for sharing this Mitch. This is how we are.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Hetty Eliot says:

    It’s so hard to define if we like or love ourselves, I think, because we duck and dodge ourselves when trying to pin down our feelings precisely. But the proof of how we feel about ourselves shows in how we treat other people. If we hate ourselves, then we try to help others hate us, too. But when we like ourselves? I dunno. Arrogant self-love is different from real love, it seems.

    Liked by 5 people

  19. Thank you for this thought-provoking post, Mitch.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Wow. This is so powerful.
    Thank you for the post.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. keikomushi says:

    Thanks for sharing, Mitch. I recall seeing those sorts of slogans creeping into some ministries a few decades ago, especially the likes of the Prosperity movement. A dodgy minister can easily lead their flock astray with bad teachings. Sadly, this sort of thing is all too common in evangelical circles these days.
    Some people believe that not hating yourself is the same thing as love. Taking care of your own mental, physical and spiritual health is a good thing so long as we don’t engage in what can easily be described as self-worship. Once it reaches the stage of self-worship, we start engaging in self-destruction because gratifying our own desires becomes the focus. Self-worship doesn’t look to the future, just in the continuation of those momentary pleasures.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Excellent points in this post, Mitch. My former pastor said once or twice that the people with the most self-love were all in prison. They thought they were entitled to do whatever felt good to them (including killing the person who got in the way of their happiness), and it was always somebody else’s fault when things went bad for them (like getting sentenced to prison).
    Some of my college psychology professors might disagree that this really represents “self-love,” but there is a lot we can learn from it. It’s why Jesus calls us to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Hi Mitch
    I read your post with care and enthusiasm. I did enjoy it and also learned from it to love yourself and like it. I enjoyed the links which led me to a good info. about self esteem and confidence. Have a good week my dear.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Your absolutely right my dear.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. There is so much wisdom here.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Pingback: Don’t Love Yourself! – 94 born Hooman

  27. Isha Garg says:

    “No accomplishment brings such inner peace as service.”
    This is so true, Mitch. The whole being is rejuvenated and inspired to action and care in any act of service. One won’t even have the time to spiral or wallow. The human race works best as a collective being after all. The early societies practiced this so much better than most do now. Loving oneself all the time is akin to denial. Great, thought provoking post!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. fairy dust says:

    A reflective post. Hears a lot about self love daily but I could never completely digest the term,even though it’s not meant narcissisticly. Accepting and liking oneself the way God created as brings inner peace. Even a small act that I can do to help others makes me like myself more.. because I believe God is in all living forms 🥰

    Liked by 2 people

  29. What an important message! You really nailed down truth here, Mitch. God bless!

    Liked by 2 people

  30. errollmulder says:

    Thanks for the above Mitch, borne out of experience and authentic.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. I always thought that because I survived a ruptured appendix in 1948, I was put on this earth to do something great! The years went by and I didn’t think I accomplished anything. I have come to accept that I helped to raise our two children into wonderful solid citizens. I am happy with this accomplishment. I am not done!

    Liked by 1 person

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