RESILIENCE: Self-Love – It’s An Inside Job

Loving others is easy

Valentine’s Day is over, and many of us have received or given cards and gifts celebrating our love for someone. We get excited and warm inside when someone says they love us. It is easy for us to give love to others. So why is it so hard to love ourselves? 


Loving ourselves can be a survival skill

Cultural conditioning is a big stumbling block to loving ourselves. We are taught that self-love is selfish or self-centered. Those who claim to practice self-love often labeled egotists. I am not saying this is always wrong, but I believe it is not quite the whole story. You see, I learned that to love myself is a survival skill. Self-love is a skill I used to heal after the loss of my husband. He used to say he loved me often, and I “felt” loved. Then when he was gone, I thought — where is the love now?


Loving ourselves helps us love others

Slowly, I began to learn to love myself. I discovered that self-love is an inside job. Self-love involves caring for myself and not depending so much on what comes to me from the outside. I found that I had more love to give when I was filled up with love on the inside. It was tough to make the shift in consciousness, but with a little help and focus, it can be done.


Now, let’s shift our perspectives to US!


How do we love ourselves?

Take a moment to pause and look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see? If your first glance looks like the picture here, go take a shower, dress, put yourself together, and return to the mirror. Or just focus on the “YOU” inside and start talking.


Having trouble? Try looking at yourself through the eyes of one who loves you. What would they say? Still can’t think of anything?


Look in your mirror and repeat after me:



Photo: Diamond, a rescue from Humane Society of Mooresville. I talk to her all the time.


Talk “PET Talk” to yourself

I recently read a suggestion that we should talk to ourselves like we talk to our pets. I created my version of self-Pet-Talk for myself:

Good morning precious.

You are so clever.

Your curly hair looks so cute and feels soft.

You have such a beautiful smile.

Want a treat?

In reality, most of us look in the mirror and examine every part of our reflection, focusing on every flaw we see. We also do a lot of mind talking, perpetuating all of our perceived imperfections.

We need to stop doing this. And start loving ourselves.

When? Start Now!


Some TIPS to get you started learning how to love yourself



Everybody has needs. It’s not your job to take care of everyone else and sacrifice yourself. Identify when your boundary has been violated and stop. Kindly say, “I need some me time right now, and I will check back with you.” (Set a time limit and follow up.)


Listen to what you are FEELING

If you are feeling sad, figure out what you need to make you feel happy or joyful. Or is the sadness something more and you need to explore additional help? Try watching a funny movie with a friend — start laughing. Remember, this may be only a temporary solution to your sadness, so you may need to dig deeper to heal.



“We are what we think.” I have heard this and read books on the topic many times. It’s TRUE. Remember the Pet-Talk pep talk above. Every time you start hearing that voice (thought) in your head say something negative, toss it away. Even better, replace it with a wonderful, positive thought!


Loving yourself takes PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.






Photos courtesy of Cheryl Barrett




Cheryl A. Barrett, RN, MSN, NC-BC, is a retired nurse with 30-plus years in a variety of settings: clinical bedside in ICU, staff educator, academic instructor both didactic and clinical, supervisor, home care education, editorial director of a nursing magazine and is a board certified integrative nurse coach.





In 2018 she published Good Grief: Strategies for Building Resilience and Supporting Transformation, inspired by the death of her husband. She won the American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year, 2018 in the category of Palliative Care and Hospice for her book. She is currently creating a companion workbook for those experiencing grief and loss.




The views, thoughts and opinions expressed by our writers belong solely to them
and do not represent, its publisher or its staff.

Comment List

  • June Amarant 14 / 03 / 2021 Reply

    Such a great article! It is so true that we look in the mirror and focus on our flaws. Would you say the negative things you say to yourself to a friend?Then we shouldn’t be saying it to ourselves.

  • Laura Zimmerman 02 / 03 / 2021 Reply

    Love this
    Thank you

  • Joyce Bigler 02 / 03 / 2021 Reply

    Right to the point and we do need to pay ourselves really good, there are too many negatives in life, with God all things are possible

  • Ellen Dermody 01 / 03 / 2021 Reply

    Loved reading this article, I first learned about self care when completing integrative nurse coach program , Cheryl’s article again emphasized the reason for self care , believe very important for nurses to write this down and bring this awareness to fellow nurses.Loved the artwork!Loved the idea regarding “pet talk” can relate as I have a little dog.Truly believe setting boundaries is so important as nurses are not good at this , our culture is to give – give , not realizing the importance of talking care of ourselves as Cheryl has clearly explained. Again I believe this is a very important topic that needs to be highlighted regularly,Thank you Cheryl for doing that. You are wonderful and talented!

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