We hear often that the most important thing in love, relationships, and perhaps even in life, is to love yourself.
"You might be overweight, but the most important thing is to love yourself."
"You can't manifest anything if you don't love yourself first."
"I would much rather love myself than have a nice body."
It is reasonable to want to have self-respect and esteem before undertaking any other lifelong activity or habit (e.g. the gym), or going out further into the world, meeting people more unlike ourselves with new expectations, away from what we're familiar with.
But something about THE NATURE OF LOVE AND SELF-LOVE needs to be taken into account before we endeavor to love ourselves.
We love ourselves the same way we love other people.
We love other people, or are fascinated by them, when at first sight they appear to be beings with a spark in their eye, who are smart enough to remain attractive, and display a promising radiance, beneficial to both you and them. A person who is obviously strong from many hours toiling at the gym receives far more automatic respect than someone who advertises they are fast food fanatics.
And of course, achievements are a huge love-magnet. But someone can have had a million achievements, and be the worst at confidently stating what he's done, so he is not easy to regard highly. Most people with great achievements do garner greater confidence as a result, but ironically it is not the achievements themselves that make these individuals so interpersonally desirable, but rather the increased and intoxicating confidence that occurs as a result.
Some people with little to no achievements somehow manage to run about the world with their head held up high, and they advertise the ability to take on the world, and everyone loves them as a result. These people are usually younger folk, because an older person who hasn't achieved much will have a harder time convincing others.
When we fall in love or find ourselves greatly admiring someone else, our love magnetizes towards them because of these qualities they show. They not only display these personality and achievement qualities to others, but also themselves.
Our love's expectations for others are the same expectations our love has for ourselves. But in order to discover what exactly that love is, we have to see that love for what it is. Love in this since is not appreciation or gratitude. It is not polite or sacrificial. It is impactful enough that we want to be like the person we see, or want to be with them. It is infatuation, admiration, desire, and envy.
When we gain these charismatic and high-achieving characteristics, whether through birth or struggle, we will automatically love ourselves. Whether it's a new haircut, a raise, a new clothing style, a better home (or cleaner room), a perfected or fun dialect -- all of these things contribute to magnetizing our love, and we automatically love ourselves more as a result, with no emotional effort on our part. It just happens!
Things that are lovable are easy to love -- we can't help loving them. This includes ourselves. Make yourself easy to love, and your love will rush towards yourself like mad. At the same time, things that are not lovable are difficult to love, if not impossible to. If we must appreciate someone or something for whatever reason, the best we can do is ignore the unlovable aspect.
Love is not a choice. When we fall in love, it is definitely not a choice.* It is the same with loving oneself. We can "choose" to love ourselves, but this is a purely intellectual endeavor, and does not stir our love, though it may stir other aspects of our insides. Coming to true self love in the most profound sense is only achieved by an envisioning of who we could be, and after an objective look at where we are with ourselves (physically, financially, emotionally) and what we desire to change. We have to earn the love of others, and we have to earn our own love, too.
Confidence breeds confidence. Success breeds success. An amazing body will have us rushing to dress ourselves in amazing clothes. An amazing self-image will push us to get the best living and economic situation for ourselves. One step towards a more lovable you opens more doors for a more lovable you.
Most people block out this reasoning because everyone wants to be inherently lovable under all circumstances. Newborns and infants who come into the world helpless and in need of nurturing, attention, affection, and caring ARE worthy of this unconditional love, however. But once we grow up, our love is selective about who it latches onto -- it's even selective about loving ourselves or not. Our love is choosy about how it feels about us, the same way our love is choosy about who we'd like to date.
Our love's main purpose is to rush towards those with the highest survival and replication value. We automatically admire the strong man, some people lust over large breasts, we automatically take into higher account someone speaking with a deeper tone, we prefer the company of popular (but nice) people instead of negative loners, when someone sends us a needy text message we grimace, we magnetize towards tall people in social situations, because in ancient times, these actions were essential to survive. Today we have government safety cushions, technology, biweekly paychecks, and grocery stores to help us survive, but our nervous system's discretion -- that is, our love's discretion -- has not changed. The field is different, but the game is the same.
What can you do to make yourself more lovable today?
*In the moment, falling in love is out of our control, but, with self-improvement and efforts at a large pool of dating options ahead of time, we can prevent premature attachment to an individual who may not love us back.