Love myself? Is that even possible?
Originally appeared online in the teen series Q&A - August 9, 2022.
Q: Everyone is always talking about how you should love yourself. But sometimes I feel like, How is that even possible?
A: I know what you mean. Sometimes it seems like it’s really hard to love ourselves, and I think that’s because of the things we tell ourselves about ourselves.
Now, most of us probably know we shouldn’t tell lies or spread rumors about other people. But sometimes I think we do listen to, or tell, not-so-nice stories about ourselves. “I’m not fast enough.” “I’m not smart enough.” “I’m not . . . something enough.”
Well, sure. Someone out there is faster than you. Someone may be better at math, or funnier, or whatever. But believe it or not, all those “I’m nots” don’t actually define us. What we’re bad at or where we don’t measure up doesn’t actually constitute our identity. And remembering that, at least for me, often puts a crack in that feeling that loving myself isn’t possible.
What we’re bad at or where we don’t measure up doesn’t actually constitute our identity.
How do I know that the bad stuff doesn’t define us? It’s because of something Jesus said that you can find in the Bible. I always appreciate the things Jesus shared because he told us that he came to speak the truth and to tell us what’s true. So, anything he says, we can really trust.
Here’s something he said in his Sermon on the Mount, for example: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
To me, this says that each of us has a wonderful, unique light—our individuality, our gift to the world—and not only can we know it but we can shine it out confidently. But here’s the interesting part of what Jesus was saying—it’s in that second half. He said that when people see the good we do, it should lead them to glorify not us but God.
Maybe that sounds kind of like a bummer. If we’re doing something good, don’t we want that to be recognized? Isn’t that part of being loved? But what’s so safe about the fact that all our good qualities point back to the divine Mind, God, is that it means they’re constant. They’re not up for grabs based on what people think about us or what we think about ourselves. And since those qualities come from an infinite source, we can’t be lacking in any area. Our spiritual identity is the “full representation of Mind” as Mary Baker Eddy says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 591).
You could also sub in another name for God and say that our real identity is the full representation of Love. And that really starts to get us somewhere in terms of loving ourselves. If we’re the full representation of Love, then we must be loving, loved, lovable—whether or not we always feel that or believe it.
Our real identity is the full representation of Love. And that really starts to get us somewhere in terms of loving ourselves.
I found this out for myself one time when I went on a trip to France. I had been having a really hard time at the start of this trip. I had left behind some hurt feelings and broken relationships, and I was feeling very unloved. But two weeks into my trip, I had an amazing experience early one morning on a French hillside overlooking the ocean.
At first, I was yelling at God about all the things that were terrible and asking Him why He hadn’t done anything about it. But when I finally ran out of complaints, there was this space of sacred silence, and all of a sudden, I just felt loved. Profoundly, divinely loved. I knew without a doubt that I was loved. And this love was more important than any of the things I’d been yelling about; it was the reason I existed. I was healed, and I knew more clearly who I was. Not a person with disappointments and problems—I was loved.
The rest of my trip—in fact, the rest of my life—was transformed by that quiet morning in France. After all, you can only give what you have. So if you know you’re loved—if you know you have love—then you can freely give it. And when we do this, we feel that love come washing right back over us! You could say that knowing the fundamental spiritual fact that we’re loved creates a continuous cycle of loving and feeling loved, feeling loved and loving.
It’s never too late to love more. It’s never too late to admit that you are deeply loved. Every day, every morning, you can remind yourself, “I am loved; I am loving; I am lovely; I am lovable.” You’ll find, as I did, that it really is true.