Posted by: silverliningsblog | January 29, 2021

Do we have to love ourselves to love and be loved?

It’s become a common saying in the personal development industry that it’s important to “love yourself.”

But lately I’ve noticed a backlash against the self-love movement, by people who say it’s unfair to imply that because a person struggles with self-esteem or confidence issues, they can’t be loved (or truly love another).

And I would agree…but mostly because I think the intention and purpose behind the self-love movement is being misunderstood.

Why self-love matters

Self-love isn’t about becoming so uber confident and sure of ourselves that we have no scars, no self-doubt, no insecurities. Show me a person who can say that and you’ve likely either found someone who is a) lying to hide their insecurities or b) overly arrogant / a narcissist.

To err is human. To doubt is human. To fear is human. To feel pain and be wounded by someone else’s words or actions is human. To take all this away would be to make us into unfeeling robots…and strip us of the beauty of two hearts openly sharing vulnerabilities and healing them together.

Self-love isn’t about perfection…reaching some unachievable place where all our healing and growth is “done.” Instead, it’s about learning to fundamentally like, love and respect ourselves, and treat ourselves with the same love and respect we want from others.

For people who had reasonably normal childhoods, this usually comes naturally. Because they received positive mirroring from their parents in childhood, they have a solid sense of self, love who they are, have healthy boundaries, and treat themselves with respect and kindness.

But for people who grew up with abuse, neglect, or trauma, the mirroring process either did not happen or was inaccurate/incomplete. Because of negative, damaging things said to them repeatedly―or a complete lack of positivity―the child did not grow up with a positive self-image, and so struggles as an adult to feel good about themselves. This typically leads to critical self-talk, self-neglect, low standards and poor boundaries. It also leads to unhealthy choices and chronic over-giving / self-sacrificing in relationships.

So the reason why self-love matters isn’t because you’re unlovable due to a crappy childhood that you didn’t ask for. And it’s not because you’re incapable of experiencing love.

It’s because without self-love you will continue to have poor boundaries and lack assertiveness in your relationships. You will continue to attract people who treat you with the same lack of respect and kindness you show yourself (like attracts like). If you feel “not good enough,” you will continue to feel drawn to people who prove you right and push away those who would have proved you wrong.

We don’t get what we want in life…we get what we believe. If you believe there’s something wrong with you, you will keep attracting people who tell or show you there’s something wrong with you, until you buckle down and do the work to heal the wound and shift the belief.

When we have unhealed wounds, our pain attracts their pain. And two wounded people who have done no healing work rarely (if ever) create a truly healthy relationship. Yes, there will be an aspect of our healing that can only happen in a relationship. But if we go into our relationships with an open, gaping wound, we are more likely to choose someone who re-wounds us, than someone who helps us heal.

What self-love means

As a love and empowerment coach for single women, I stand behind the principle that to achieve healthy relationships, we need to spend time and energy learning how to heal our hearts, process and regulate our emotions, re-build our identity, validate and affirm ourselves, set healthy boundaries, stand in our power, and make better choices.

This is what self-love is really about. It’s about treating ourselves with the same care and concern as we usually easily show our kids, friends, partners. It involves learning how to re-parent ourselves and give ourselves what we need to feel happy and healthy.

When two lonely, wounded people come together to form a relationship, that’s generally a recipe for disaster. When two happy, healthy people come together (even if they still have scars), the ingredients are there for a successful relationship.

How to love yourself

If this resonates with you and you’d like to learn more about how to love yourself, I invite you to attend my free online masterclass on February 8 at 8 pm ET: Fall Madly in Love with You!

During this live online masterclass, you will:

  • Discover why we look for love in all the wrong places
  • Understand why loving yourself matters
  • Erase old wounds
  • Learn how to truly love and support yourself
  • Enjoy Valentine’s Day even if you’re single

Learn more and register here…there is no cost, and you can attend from the comfort of your own home!

Share your ideas

What have you learned on your self-love journey? Please share!


For more on this topic, see:

If you’d like to join a global community of single women who want to heal, feel empowered and support each other, I invite you to join my free Facebook group:

About the author

Karen Strang Allen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract their dream partner.

Check out Karen’s free inspirational resources and workshops at

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