What is Self-Love?

“Self-love is the unconditional love and respect you have for yourself that is so deep, so solid, so unwavering that you choose only situations and relationships – including the one you have with yourself – that reflect that same unconditional love and respect.” – Christine Arylo

hand over heartAs you know, I’ve spent the last several months trying to find and learn to love myself again. I feel so passionately that lack of self-love is one of the biggest sources of grief, stress, and pain in the modern woman that I am hosting a telecall and starting a local women’s group  all in an effort to teach women how to bring more self-love into their lives. I wish I could bring each of you into my home, sit you down, and tell you how wonderful you are! But as we don’t all live in the same place and my home is not that big, I cannot do that. What I can do is to bring the lessons I am teaching my circle to you via the blog and telecalls.

I shared last week that 2014 is going to be the Year of Me. One of the ways I am choosing to Honor myself this year is by focusing on a different branch of Christine Arylo’s self-love tree each week/month/however long it takes. I hope to do this in my women’s circle as well – focusing on one branch per month as we re-learn to love ourselves and explore our own sense of self-worth.

2013 drained me so much that I feel like I am starting over. I keep having to go back and re-read portions of Madly in Love with Me because I think I have it only to soon realize I have already forgotten what it means to love and take care of myself.

This past weekend is a perfect example. At 6:00 last night (Sunday), I started freaking out because although I worked all weekend, I still wasn’t caught up. I frantically tried to get more done – wanting to cross everything off my to-do list. By 6:30, I was an anxiety-ridden mess and had only managed to ‘accomplish’ one more thing. And had forgotten to eat again.

I made myself stop. Walked away from my laptop. Made myself some dinner, sat on my couch and went back to Madly in Love with Me. Because if I’ve learned anything over these past few months it’s what self-love is not: and let me tell you, nowhere in the self-love guide does it recommend running yourself ragged. (Believe me. I checked!)

Instead, the message I received loud and clear was that I needed to work more on self-compassion and self-forgiveness. I’m not perfect. No one is. And that’s okay. In fact, I am doing the best I can in this moment – whatever that is.

Silencing my inner perfectionist has always been a challenge for me, but last night she got out of hand. So I learned to stop and breathe and realized that everything will be okay. What gets done gets done, what doesn’t get done doesn’t. There’s always tomorrow – or never. Because if I’m honest with myself, I know that I put a lot more on my plate than actually needs to be there. So I’m going back to my 80/20 rule. Say yes to 20% of the things that people ask me to take on that I really want to do (say no to everything that doesn’t resonate with my soul) and give them 80% effort. That way I still have time to take care of me.

That’s self-love, self-compassion. And self-forgiveness comes in as I forgive myself for not taking on everything and giving 110%. Because 110% doesn’t even exist and all I’m doing by trying to accomplish the impossible is setting myself up for more self-criticism and blame. That’s not a loving thing to do at all.

So, in this month of Love (Valentine’s Day is just around the corner), I am committing to Loving Me more. And I’m starting my journey with the realization and acceptance of the fact that I can’t do everything for everyone and that’s okay.

How will you show yourself love today?




  • Peggy Nolan says:

    Hi Mary,

    I can relate! That was me last year. The resource that helped me fall awake was Karen Horneffer-Ginter’s “Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit. She kindly reminded me to live more from my heart center than from the edge. The edge always left me frantic – did I do enough? What did I forget to do? – it got to the point where I spent nearly 3 days in my PJ’s, on the couch, watching back-to-back episodes of Doctor Who. Ginter’s book and my subsequent interview with her, really changed things up for me.

    Great article!

    Peggy Nolan

  • Mary says:

    Hi Mary,
    This is what I needed today. I’ve been feeling drained and by the end of the day I have given so much compassion that I forget to give some to myself. Self-care and loving oneself is so vital to achieve happiness and fulfillment. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂


    • Mary E. Pritchard, Ph.D. says:

      You are quite welcome, Mary! Self-compassion is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves as we are often our own worst enemies.

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