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The 'Love Yourself First' Debate

Hiya there forum dwellers and truth seekers,

Someone recently posited a premise to me. You'll all be familiar with this - it is very pervasive specially in semi-spiritual niches.
This idea that you should love yourself first and then you will attract love. Or in other words, that you should take responsibility for yourself and just stop expecting to be loved, so that you may "radiate love" and expect nothing, thereby attracting people to you magnetically.

I am not sure whether this premise has any truth to it or belongs in the category "spiritual bollocks". Feels like this could be used very easily to coax insecure souls into believing that they themselves are at fault. That they ought to just become less insecure and abandon their quest to become cherished. That it might be more beneficial for them to surrender the "need to be loved" - and instead chase a form of bliss that transcends such weakness.

I struggle with this - and in a sense I feel that this is "expected" of me - as an offspring of a spiritual family.
This is probably a major theme in many families. Let me know what you think?

Silly Upside Down Eagle
Hi... I think that in a "normal" adult, non-PTSD setting, without any attachment trauma, it's pretty good advice.

If it's (weirdly, imo incorrectly) applied to children growing up in traumatic circumstances, then it's wrong/ bad advice.

Children need to receive love first, imo.

So... then what to do in an adult setting where there is PTSD, there is attachment trauma and you grew up as a child without receiving the requisite love?


I think in that specific case, it's good to deal with it in therapy.

Because if you're taking your attachment trauma and insecurity into adult relationships, then more often than not it will make those relationships really difficult, or even wreck them.

There's a saying "If you don't address your childhood trauma, then your adult romantic relationships will" and in my experience that'S 100% true.

I find Diane Poole Heller's Healing your attachment wounds a very good and compassionate resource for learning and healing in this area.
Well for us its the love your neighbour as yourself. In meditation practice there is the thing there about tending to yourself as you would a friend. These concepts always baffle me as I have little understanding of comparison. Like how to evaluate how I treat others. I am critical and sometimes gruff towards others especially if they get something wrong. Given I’m a perfectionist and don’t expect anything less from others. So ya that backfires big time. What I did was to look words up individually. What is kindness, what is love, what is looking out for others mean. Breaking the words down to dictionary meaning guides me to a target. My neighbour and I are not fast friends, we just say hi. So how is that loving. I mean I’m not hateful either. In answering you I hope you can see it’s a difficult topic that we each have to Seuss out for ourselves and come up with less loaded language for ourselves. The other the one I like is when you say or think of others may you be well, may you have peace etc. I mean that type of phrasing I can apply to anyone including myself and my enemies
For adults that have good examples of being loved and cared for as children, it is probably good advice. And maybe people that look after themselves well are more attractive to other healthy people.

But I think people that don't have good childhood examples of love and care need to experience being loved to learn how to love themselves.
as a child prostitute, i learned the cliche euphemisms of love far more than spiritual love. nurturing love was an alien concept to me. i had to learn self-love before i had any love to give. a street euphemism which offered me my first clue in this great debate was, "what goes around comes around." if i send around anger and hatred, that is what will come around. if i send around tolerant compassion and love, that is what will come back to me.
Well for us its the love your neighbour as yourself.

I like that you said that. Honestly, the Christian perspective on this is much more liberating (to me) than the more modern spiritualist version of it. At least "love your neighbour" is a clear instruction. I know I can't do it (because the damage done to me was rather extensive) but at least it suggests that I can try. Whereas "love yourself to attract love" seems like this horrible judgement where you'll come out with nothing at the other side. I also like the idea of treating yourself as a friend - this isn't as high a bar to set.
But I think people that don't have good childhood examples of love and care need to experience being loved to learn how to love themselves.

I actually learned about self-respect from friends who did things that were respectful of me. I'd never experienced that before. So from them I learned that I had been putting up with some highly damaging behavior from others. So I think you're quite right about that. It's easy to get up stuck though, because how do you determine what comes first (self-love / love from others). Kind of turns into a chicken and egg debate.

as a child prostitute, i learned the cliche euphemisms of love far more than spiritual love.

I can relate to being conditioned to think in cliches Arfie. Thank you for saying that.
Maybe that's part of my struggle with terms like "love" and "unconditionally".
Agree with the first part - at least to the extent that I think it’s really important to have a good relationship with yourself.

I don’t believe that’s enough to “attract love” from others. But it certainly helps

I think if you dont have a good relationship with yourself you fall into two sides of either accepting whatever comes along, or using the other person as a tool to fix your mental health issues.

And neither are healthy. Imo, in friendship or relationship.