Self-love or self-hatred? Which will you choose?

A commenter writes, “Self-love is no simple task.”

It’s true. It is not always easy to love oneself. To be in love with oneself. To hold oneself in loving thoughts and tender mercies.

There was a time when loving myself was the last thing I wanted to do. Challenge is, I didn’t want to face the fact I was actively engaged in avoiding loving myself so I pretended I did love myself, well sort of, almost, some parts.

In my ‘I love myself but….’ I did a lot of things that hurt me. That hurt people I love.

I knew what it meant to love another — well sort of, at least as long as I didn’t have to face the fact I didn’t really love myself.

In my “I love you but not me” pretense, I could pretend everything was okay when actually, I was not living my truth. Not standing true to my beliefs. Yet, in fact, I wasn’t really lying — I didn’t want to admit I didn’t love myself so pretended I did, but because I didn’t, the things I did that hurt me, that put me in situations that were not self-loving or filled with dignity, self-respect, kindness — they were true to my feelings about myself.

Ahh, the webs we weave when we attempt to deceive ourselves about the truth of our human condition.


It is fascinating to me that for many of us, we think about not loving ourselves, but we hesitate to ask the next question. If I am not loving myself, what am I doing?

Am I hating myself? Am I doing things that express my self-loathing? Am I drowning my self-loathing beneath the false pretense of over-confidence? Lack of self-confidence. Humour. Anger. Acting out. Drugs. Alcohol. Am I playing down to my worst instincts to avoid having to acknowledge I am afraid to love myself. Afraid to see this flawed, fragile and frightened being is me — and I’m not loving myself enough to see that what I am doing is hurting me.

Is avoidance of self-love my game?

Long before I fell into the arms of a man who almost killed me with his abuse, I was in therapy. I wanted to understand why I did not love myself.

I knew it was true — that I didn’t love myself. What I didn’t know, what I didn’t see or what no one ever asked me was — Which hurts more? Loving yourself or hating yourself?


Recently, I did an EQ (Emotional Intelligence) In-Action Profile with my brilliant friend Ian Munro at Leading Essentially.

It was very telling and informative for me to see where my automatic default goes when I am under duress/stress.

I am ‘optimally fit’ in my Positive/Negative orientation, and ‘optimally fit’ in my balanced reliance on thoughts, wants and feelings.

In my ‘Self-Other Orientation’, well, according to the results it, ‘Needs a Work-Out’.

It’s all about trust. Boundaries and loving myself enough to set healthy ones.

Dang. Wouldn’t you know it.

In this quadrant the good news is, ‘I don’t let relationship ruptures fester or run on too long. The bad news is, I may find myself taking more responsibility than is actually mine to take.’

Taking excessive responsibility is the Achilles’ heel of those who are more self-oriented, the Profile tells me.

No kidding.

Starving children in Africa?

War in Afghanistan?

It’s either my fault or I can fix it. There is no in-between.

Just kidding. I know that’s not true, but somewhere deep within me is a wish, a desire to fix it. To bring peace to the world – all of it, not just the parts over which I have domain or impact. It is not succumbing to that place where I believe everything is all my fault, that is vital to my well-being. Of not giving into the feeling that if I could just grab a magic wand and sprinkle fairy dust over everyone so they could just ‘get along’ and quit making such a mess of relationships and our world, I will have done my job.

It’s all about boundaries.

About knowing what is mine and what is yours. What I am responsible for and what I’m not and then…

Yup. That self-love thing again — loving myself enough to give myself the grace of setting boundaries that honour me, and trusting others to be responsible for their journey along the way.

As I mentioned to a friend awhile ago, “I am getting so tired of people crossing the boundaries I refuse to set.”

Boundaries are great. But first, you gotta set some!

Here’s to setting healthy, loving and effective boundaries that get me to optimal fitness in my world.

What about you?

Feeling any need to love yourself a little more today? Go for it. There’s nothing to lose, because really, is self-love any more difficult than self-loathing?


For those of you interested in the EQ In-Action Profile, Ian is an amazing coach. Do check out his website. Leading Essentially

Thank you KW for your inspiring comment.