The Definition of Self-Love

Today we invite you to sit with us on the Self-Love-Sofa. In the past few years the world and trend of self-love have really taken off, but there seems to be quite the confusion on the subject. With this post, we hope to free this lovely word from its false imprints and to clarify what it truly means.

When we first started to create the content for this post we looked up the definition in the dictionary. The answer was shocking and we realized there was so much more that we needed to talk about than we first anticipated.

What is Self-Love not?

Let us start out by sharing the definition we found in the dictionary – that is as followed:

Self-Love [ selfluhv ]

  • the instinct by which one’s actions are directed to the promotion of one’s own welfare or well-being especially an excessive regard for one’s own advantage.
  • conceit; vanity
  • narcisissm

Maybe this definition doesn’t seem to be as bad as you thought it would be. But what we first noticed was that all three definitions seemed to have a very negative and egoistic taste. Like there was something terribly wrong or bad about self-love. This belief can have enormous effects on people and their relationship with themselves, but we will get into that later. We continued our search and found a definition in the Marianne Webster Dictionary that seems to capture it from a better angle.

Self-Love – love of self

  • an appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue
  • proper regard for and attention to one’s own happiness or well-being
  • inflated love of or pride in oneself, narcissism, conceit

This definitely put self-love in a better light, but there still was quite some irritation about the last statement. People seemed to misunderstand narcissism and the link it had to self-love. The very much needed distinction, differentiation, and apparently, also knowledge for the used words seem to be missing.

The Cambridge Dictionary surprisingly doesn’t provide a definition for the word self-love, but gave us the following definition for narcissism:


too much interest in and admiration for your own physical appearance and/or your own abilities.

From an external point of view, this definition is correct. But the deep-rooted psychological cause of narcissism is missing and creates a rather false interpretation of this word. The cause of this pathological personality style or rather pattern of behavior is caused by a lack of self-trust, self-acceptance, and self-assurance. People with narcissistic trades actually overcompensate their desire to feel loved and accepted. Since most certainly in childhood their natural desires for unconditional love and acceptance weren’t met they adapt to the belief of missing out and being neglected which they try to compensate in adulthood. They make themselves an absolute priority in a self-centered way which most certainly causes others suffering. They are so enclosed by their own pain that it is all that is left for them to be perceived. These people are in desperate need of self-love because it is the only way to free them from their painful cycle of love withdrawal and harm.

Narcissists are unbelievebly emaciated. They have a profound hunger for actual love of self.

But let’s get back to the definitions which indicate that self-love equals narcissism and narcissism equals self-love. This simply isn’t true unless you view self-love as followed: ‘too much interest in and admiration for your own physical appearance and/or your own abilities’ which simply is the definition of narcissism from an obvious and visible approach.

A lot of people also misinterpret self-pamper as self-love, but it can only be an act of self-love, a form of trying to improve the affection you feel for yourself. But careful always needing to look good for yourself is not a form of self-love, but rather an indication of perfectionism.

What is Self-Love?

Since we now covered pretty much everything that self-love is not let’s get into what it really is. We define it as followed: ‘to pay attention to your well-being by paying proper regard to your own worth and virtue.’ The world ‘self-love’ is simply inspiring us to take good care of ourselves. This doesn’t mean on behalf of someone else’s needs, but rather in a form of respect for yourself.

Here are a few other lovely descriptions we found:

  • Self-love begins when we observe our actions and words with compassion as if we were our own best friend. – Sara M Bosworth
  • Often we are reluctant to promote self-love mostly because we confuse it with selfishness. Since we are humans, we ought to have a healthy love for ourselves; it is from this fount that love flows out to others. – Mason Olds
  • Just as you’d think, it’s love-particular, self-love-that makes the world go around. – Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Acts of Self-Love

Now that you know what self-love means you may be wondering: ‘How am I supposed to do that? How do I find love for myself? What are my acts of self-love?’ But don’t worry we got you. Start by writing down a list of things you like to do and if this seems to be a difficult task write down things you would like to try to find out whether you like them or not. We have created a free working sheet that helps you to differentiate the categories you will need to review, includes insightful questions and a list of recommendations. You can find the link below.

Just know that trying your best and viewing your effort with compassion can be the most effective act of self-love you can give yourself.

Love Yourself

Maybe you have come to realize that your definition of self-love was covered by a filter of society or you are now more confident than ever that you are on the right track. Whatever your conclusion may be we truly hope you are inspired to pay more attention to your needs and fulfill them without any doubts. And remember you are always worthy of self-love, even when you don’t feel like it.

Taking care of yourself isn’t just a must do, but a gift that you give to yourself.

You are interested in more?

The depth of this topic really touched us, so we decided that there will be a small series on self-love. If you want to stay up to date and be one of the first to hear about our project ‘The Self-Love-Sofa’ just subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of our homepage. We would love to have you around!

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