19 May

If I was to ask you this question, how do you show unconditional love to someone?  What would you reply?

 Our definition and meaning of love is different for everyone, love is something that most of us can give so easily to others, but sometimes we struggle to apply unconditional love to ourselves because we are often our own biggest critique. 

A Psychological approach 

In the 1900s  Humanistic Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed a health theory called Maslows Hierarchy of needs and his work involved research around what constituted positive mental wellbeing. Maslow believed that people needed to address their very basic physiological needs, before finally achieving a higher level of need which he refers to as ' self actualisation'. Thus when someone can reach and achieve their full potential. ( see diagram below) 

Maslows emphasis was very much based on humanistic positive psychology, he believed that the here and now of a persons functioning is most significant, rather than examining past experiences.  

Furthermore he believed people must be take responsibility for their actions regardless of whether they are positive or negative. 

Each person must believe they are worthy. 

To allow for personal growth within ourself we must learn to understand ourselves better in order to make improvements in our life.

People often mistake self love with external things and self care, for example buying yourself things and living a lavish lifestyle will only bring you short term happiness that doesn't last, thus it feels good for that day then the feeling wears off. I am talking about long lasting self fulfilment that is learning to love and accept who you are, as you are!  Self love focuses on the internal factors rather than the external and once you accomplish the internal work everything else in your life is a bonus. 

where do we start? 

we start by looking within our core self,  and our core self contains elements that help us establish a solid self- foundation. 

what do we mean? 

we mean building upon our self- awareness skills and our ability to self actualise (self acceptance) once you repeatedly practice this, you will help to build yourself a solid self foundation. 

Self acceptance is about knowing yourself authentically, it's associated with our ego. 

The Ego develops during our earlier years of life, it is conditioned as a consequence of the experiences we have. (things we've learnt from our caregivers and environment, so forth) The ego is what is known to us our false self. 

The ego mind is very powerful in that it can be dominated by all of our emotions, such as guilt, anger, envy, jealously and so forth, yet on the contrary it is also responsible for our pleasurable thoughts. 

When we are operating from our true self we are open to love, freedom and a sense of expansion, thus we feel more humbled and connected. With this in mind, we are not immune from egotistical emotions but we have the power to not let this rule us, because we come from the solid self foundation. This is where true happiness is fulfilled. 

There are multiple factors that affect our ego and ability to self love, and this can be trauma and other external influences such as social media and opinions of others. All of these things stop us in our track and make us question our self as well as our worth. 

How to build our solid foundation? 

Inner dialogue

One of the things We can do is think about how we talk to ourself and the language we use. If we replace all our self talk with I statements, it helps us become clear in expressing what it is we need from ourself and from others. 

self talk looks a little bit like this.... 

" I need" 

" I would like"

" I am" 

" i know" 

" I accept" 

changing our language helps us set strong boundaries in place not only for our needs, but it also helps others to understand our boundaries. It creates clear communication. 

Additionally we must remember that our thoughts and emotions are like visitors, they come and go, so what we feel one day about ourselves isn't always the same the next. 


Unfortunately many people push our boundaries and more so, if we don't establish them early on. One of the things I learnt on my own journey in becoming a Counsellor is that I can be empathic with people, but I can also lay down my professional and personal boundaries as well. 

If you are a naturally empathic person, you will get me when I say that people will often unkowingly project their emotions on to you . If your willing to offer a listening ear to someone, then be prepared to understand how to disengage with someone after the transaction. Remember you do not need to take on the emotions of other people, you can still be a good person with empathy, but if you do not take care of yourself, you will find yourself draining your own cup. Remember their pain is not your pain and we can learn to refrain from being emotionally invested. When we self love we can learn to support others and set boundaries in place for ourselves, it is not a selfish act so make sure that you always prioritise your own mental wellbeing. 

setting boundaries is a way of respecting and honouring yourself, but unfortunately many of us rely on the conscience of others, but this doesn't work as we cannot control the actions of other people. The behaviours of other people are not our responsibility and therefore we cannot always rely on them to respect our boundaries and some will not change their behaviour towards you. Apologies are false expectations we put on others and nothing is ever certain, so don't define your worth based on peoples treatment towards you. 

As a consequence of people not respecting our boundaries, we can risk  going into self pity mode..

"why are people treating or hurting me like this" ? 

Take back the control and ask yourself what can you do to protect yourself as a consequence of their behaviour? 

Is their behaviour within your boundaries? if not then decide what you will do about it. If people truly love you and accept you, they will also respect your boundaries. Sometimes the person that causes us grief can be someone close to us like a family member. In this case and from working with client I often hear how difficult it is to establish a boundary. You can still love a person and step away from them at the same time, this does not make you a bad person. You can limit and control time spent with a person who doesn't make you feel good. example of this might be.. 

If this person calls or messages you, you 

When we feel  wounded or angry by the actions of others,  we can fester on those emotions and let them consume us. The truth is we can't control what others say and do to us, but through our boundaries we can decide how we can best deal with it. 

feelings of anger are normal emotions, but they can cloud our clarity and we tend to react  rather than respond. You can take back the control here, by listening to your anger, accept it, and make no attempt in blocking it as it is denying yourself of that emotion. 

"feelings are like visitors, they come and they go so don't allow them to stay"

Learn to let go of grudges and let forgiveness in, this does not mean that you  accept negative behaviour, it means you forgive others to allow for your own peace and healing. When we are angry with others, we have the ability to cloud our own vision and we 

You can take control over these situations by accepting them and letting them go, by doing so your strengthening your ability to also be forgiving and accepting of yourself. 

"setting boundaries help you teach people how to treat you, and this will allow you the opportunity to shed old defence mechanisms that block authenticity in relationships. As you learn how to set healthy boundaries in your relationship, you will find yourself feeling more and more vulnerable, and you will learn to be more authentic as well"

Lisa A. Romano (life coach)  

set your boundaries for yourself and for others by......

Speaking up if you feel uncomfortable.

Saying no without apologising or explaining  

Walking away if people are being abusive 

Adapt your time spent with others accordingly 

Decide who will stay in your life and who will not

Forgiveness of yourself 

Learn to rest 

Unplug from technology

Respond, rather than react. 

Stop trying to be prefect, perfection doesn't exist 

be honest with your needs

stop making excuses for other people 

comparing yourself to others. 

trying to control everything (other people and situations)  


Acceptance of love

Some of us go to the ends of the earth to love and protect those who we love by listening, supporting and encouraging, yet we spread our self thinly as a consequence of constantly giving from our own cup. 

I am not saying that being this kind of person is wrong, but I am saying we often neglect our own needs by prioritising others.

we have to believe that we are also worthy of that same care and love we give out, and this comes through self compassion and understanding your own needs. We can become very good at limiting ourselves of accepting love from others, because ultimately we don't feel worthy of it. Let go of feelings of burden because if someone wants to do something for you, let them! if someone wants to love you, let them and if someone wants to help you, let them. 

"when you understand what you deserve, you won't accept anything less" 


Practicing awareness 

When we physically exercise we start to strengthen all of the muscles in our body, the brain is exactly same. The more you practice self love, the more your brain will recognise it. 

To enable us to reach our full potential we can try the following 

practicing being in the present moment 



feel your body 

spend time with nature 


be creative 

connect with your spirituality 

nourish your body 

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