Should you like yourself? In this honest post, I share how to distinguish between self-like and self-obsessing and why learning to love yourself matters.
There are some, perhaps even Biblical assumptions, that all humans love themselves and potentially a little too much. But I still questioned, does loving yourself mean liking yourself? Or does a dislike for yourself take self-love and turn it into a self-idol?
There’s no doubt the world is fascinated with self. We’re all concerned with who we are, what we are, and what we’re trying to become. We quickly get so wrapped up in ourselves that we put ourselves on a pedestal of judgment or praise. We make life all about ourselves, which might be why you don’t like yourself.
Not because self-like is selfish but because our self-worship shines a spotlight on ourselves, leaving plenty of room, time, and energy to judge ourselves. We can’t help but see our flaws, which leaves us self-protecting and often self-worshiping. But it’s not because we actually like ourselves (or even love ourselves) but the opposite, because we don’t.
I know it sounds crazy, but I think it’s more true to say that we’re a self-worshipping kind of people, not because we like ourselves but because we don’t. And if we could embrace true self-like, it would allow us to invest more in others because we already have what we need.
The problem is, this becomes confusing to the naked eye because we’re good at masking self-hate in things like self-care and calling it self-love.
Inside this podcast, I invited my husband Payton to come on and discuss how to like yourself and why you might be acting in self-hate more than you realized.
The goal of self-like
The best way I have come to understand true and undying self-like is through the words of Timothy Keller in The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness,
“The goal is not to think of yourself as less or to think of yourself as more but to think of yourself less.”
True self-like is when you no longer need to think of yourself, obsess over yourself or build yourself up. It’s living out of the overflow of what you are, unconcerned by yourself and more concerned by how you can help the world.
Don’t confuse that with perfection or a place. Like most things, self-like is not a destination you’ll arrive at, but self-like recognizes you can like yourself while still wishing for something better. You can have confidence even if you’re not standing in the place you thought.
Self-like is liking yourself enough to invest in yourself, which is different than obsessing over yourself. Obsessing is a form of covering the places you hate.
They seem so close to the same thing, investing and obsessing, that you can almost miss it. But the self-obsessing kind of self-like is the near enemy to the form of self-like where you choose to invest in yourself. You have to learn to distinguish the two. If you don’t, you’ll most likely fall into the self-obsessing form you call self-love when it’s really a type of self-hate.
True self-like is getting to the place where you like yourself enough you can live less concerned by yourself and invest that into the world.
How to like yourself
The question is, how do you like yourself?
It starts by learning how to like all of you, even if you don’t like the place you currently reside. It’s getting to know the places you haven’t like. The places you’ve worked tirelessly to cover up. Not to own them but to grow through them.
As I wrote in The Nourished Planner,
“The way to love yourself is by understanding the parts you hate. Not to accept them but to learn from them so you can grow and become a better version of yourself.”
When you like yourself, you free yourself from the need to numb by plowing through another bag of chips or punishing yourself through another grueling workout. When you like yourself, taking care of yourself feels good. It becomes something you crave.
Self-like becomes the way to invest in yourself so you have more energy to use your passions to give back to the world around you.
You can like yourself while still wishing for something better.
Get rid of all the things you are doing in self-hate, even if they are acts others call self-care. Go back to what you desire, what you need, and what you crave.
Linger a little longer in the conversation. Hold the door for a stranger. Say something positive about your reflection staring back at you. There are a million little ways to own who you are, but liking yourself begins by showing up for yourself. Even if you’re not where you want to be, hate will never get you there. Only love will.
If you want to love yourself, invest in yourself just as you invest in the world around you.
Self-like isn’t the same thing as selfishness or self-obsessing. It’s holy.
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:17-24 NIV