“You’ve Got to Love Yourself First”

3 min readApr 10, 2021

Let me disprove that.

Photo by Drew Darby on Unsplash

You and I hear that a lot: people reminding us to love ourselves in order to be loved by others.

What’s the logic behind that? I presume it’s that when we love ourselves, we accept every part of us and refrain from being critical of ourselves, which makes us act in upbeat, cheerful, and open ways, making others unafraid to approach us and feel drawn to our energy and our positive spirit.

In reality though, no one is going to act in 100% self-accepting ways 100% of the time: people’s faith are tested, daily stress gets at us, memories of past events influence how we interpret our worth, and it may be the case that our needs simply aren’t met. Viewed in this light, how in the world can any human being accomplish the act of feeling okay about themselves?—human beings are anxious creatures who are easily threatened by the past, present, and future. Our heads are bound to feel messed up.

So it’s unfair to tell people that the moment that moment comes—when they ‘love themselves’ (whatever that means!)—that they will get the love they want, whatever kind of love that may be. That moment will never come because human beings will forever be in a struggle to love themselves, especially those with a history of psychological trauma.

Are you saying that people with a history of psychological trauma don’t deserve love?

Dear supporters of the “you’ve got to love yourself first” precept: don’t for a second think that seemingly ‘unlovable’ people don’t try to love themselves. They try, everyday. They want to, badly. They struggle. Just because they don’t utter the words “I love myself” it doesn’t mean they don’t: we all know how actions speak louder than words.

Besides, the “you’ve got to love yourself first” precept assumes that we have total control over whether other people choose to love us or not—it’s simple isn’t it? Just love yourself and someone will love you. Here, again, is another example of human beings being drawn to oversimplified ways of understanding the world…Perhaps it’s because the prospect that people might still choose not to love us despite everything we do is just plain scary—to those who believe in the “you’ve got to love yourself first” precept, especially.

And even if you love yourself, a person might not love you, because whether or not that someone loves you also has a lot to do with that person—why do we forget this?

So dear supporters of the “you’ve got to love yourself first” precept: think harder, or perhaps wider!

I’ll end this with Ne-Yo’s song’s lyrics, which reminds us that perhaps love is about loving people who need it, not loving people because they are good enough for it:

Much as you blame yourself, you can’t be blamed for the way that you feel
Had no example of a love that was even remotely real
How can you understand something that you never had
Ooh baby if you let me, I can help you out with all of that

Girl let me love you
And I will love you
Until you learn to love yourself
Girl let me love you
And all your trouble
Don’t be afraid, girl let me help




All things life, spirituality, healing, psychotherapy, trauma-related, & mindfulness. Occasionally food & poetry.