We need to have a love affair with ourselves. We must walk in our own nurturance, delight in the pleasure of our own company, and court our own soul—the soul that most awaits our attention and affection. Then we can love others without strings attached. When we’re in love with ourselves we can approach others without neediness or a hidden agenda—the expectations of rescue.
If we were neglected as children, we enter adulthood as love-cripples. Now we must take the time alone, without the distractions or projections so often a part of romance, sex, and having a partner, in order to love the damaged child within. We must take the time to connect to the life force glowing within us. We may need guidance from an enlightened therapist or friend to learn the ways of self-love. A love-guide—a guide of caring and respect and boundaries and maturity—who witnesses our true value may provide us the first experience of true love we’ve ever had.
It is easy to avoid self-love by instead misusing others. We may project our damaged inner child onto another and then try to love them. His or her wounded nature calls for our attention. We see their ache, but not our own. In fact, we dismiss our own cry for love as we project our pain outward, seeking to cure another instead of ourselves. Or, we may take a different tack to avoid self-love and try to seduce and manipulate love and attention out of others selfishly, because we are unable to give ourselves our own nurture.
It is important to remember that love becomes a manipulative bargaining chip when self-love is missing. When we can take ourselves into our own care, we can then truly begin to love our neighbors as ourselves.