From when we’re small children we may remember continually being told to follow the Golden Rule to “treat others as you would want to be treated.” Even Jesus taught in the Bible that the second great commandment is to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39). Sister Neil F. Marriot said, “We build the kingdom when we nurture others. However, the first child of God we must build up in the restored gospel is ourselves.”
In order to fully love another person, we must develop love for ourselves. Social media tells us what to buy, how to dress, how we should look, what to eat, and the list goes on. It’s easy to get caught up in these impossible expectations which cause us to focus on our flaws and miss moments to love and appreciate ourselves.
In the talk, “Of Things That Matter Most” Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “The fourth key relationship is with ourselves. It may seem odd to think of having a relationship with ourselves, but we do. Some people can’t get along with themselves. They criticize and belittle themselves all day long until they begin to hate themselves. May I suggest that you reduce the rush and take a little extra time to get to know yourself better. Walk in nature, watch a sunrise, enjoy God’s creations, ponder the truths of the restored gospel, and find out what they mean for you personally. Learn to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you—as His precious daughter or son with divine potential.”
We are children of God. We have a Father in Heaven who loves us regardless of if we’re meeting the world’s criteria. Knowing we’re children of God helps us understand our potential to become like Him. Life provides endless opportunities to change and improve. The less we worry about ourselves and the more love and respect we have for ourselves, the easier it is to share this love with those around us. Having this knowledge and allowing it to change us brings self-confidence, optimism, peace, and happiness into our lives.
I love this video and I think it applies to more than just our outward appearance. If you struggle with loving yourself, you are NOT alone. I remember sitting in a class and a teacher had us write a list of things we liked about another person in the room. It was pretty easy to list things we admire about each other! Then we had to list what we liked about ourselves. Most people struggled with the list about themselves. We see flaws in ourselves when others don’t. We should be more gentle with ourselves and celebrate the good we see in ourselves and others.
So how can we work on loving ourselves? I want to share just a few ideas.
First, how we talk to ourselves matters.
Negative self-talk is so prevalent and it directly affects how we treat others. We need to be careful how we treat ourselves. As we learn to be gentle and kind with ourselves, we find greater capacity for gentleness and kindness to those around us!
Self doubt is dangerous, it hinders your ability to fulfill your potential and undermines confidence. To break the habit of self-doubt, you need to fill your mind with the belief that you can excel. Every time I catch myself thinking or talking to myself in negative, reactive ways, I try to stop and immediately replace it with positive thoughts. It takes time and I am a continual work in progress. President James E Faust said, “We develop our talents first by thinking we can.”
Positive thinking is so important and can be so hard. The best way I have learned to reinforce positive thinking is by practicing gratitude. The more we look for the good, the more good there is and alternatively, the more we look for the negative or bad, the more we will find.
Another trap that keeps us from loving ourselves is defining ourselves by our mistakes. We ruminate, we stew, we stress. We’ve all made mistakes, but many of us find it hard to let go of them. Thoughts of guilt and regret can take root in your mind and convince you that you’re just not good enough, that you don’t deserve to love yourself.
But if you’ve moved past your mistakes, there’s no reason to hold onto regrets. We’re supposed to make mistakes in this life—that’s the whole point of living. God expects us to fall and to pick ourselves up and try again. Let yourself learn from your mistakes. Let yourself grow and be as proud of your strength as God is.
The final way I want to share about how we can learn to love ourselves is to come to know and remember that each of us have a divine nature and destiny. Because of this we can trust God to help us improve in all areas of life. Our worth NEVER changes and God’s love for us is infinite.
I love this quote by Thomas S. Monson, “Your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there…God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love.”
For many of us, loving ourselves doesn’t come as easily as loving the people around us—but finding peace and love in yourself is just as important as loving others. If you feel incapable of celebrating your own worth, you can learn to love yourself by truly understanding the way God loves you.
That’s how God feels about you. He earnestly wants you to understand your true worth—and by drawing closer to Him, by asking to feel His spirit, by understanding and celebrating your place in this world, you can begin to love yourself the way God loves you.
“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).
I urge each of you to speak kinder to yourself this week, let go of past mistakes, and ask Heavenly Father to see yourself as He sees you.