Why Do People Have Such Little Self-Love?

Why Do People Have Such Little Self-Love?
Alicia Escaño Hidalgo

Written and verified by the psychologist Alicia Escaño Hidalgo.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Humans are social by nature. And there’s one very simple and logical reason for it: millions of years ago, we needed others to survive.

While we might not need other people as much as back then, we still need care and attention from other people. We also need self-love, from the time we’re born until we die.

Children need to feel secure, whether the feeling comes from their parents or another significant figure in their life that they have a secure attachment with. In any case, stability and trust will give them a future as emotionally strong, secure adults with healthy self-esteem.

However, it’s easy to see that very few people truly display these characteristics. Most people aren’t secure in themselves, don’t trust in their abilities, and can’t evaluate themselves realistically.

Why is it so hard to find a human who has unconditional self-love?

It seems like a lack of love, care, consideration, and respect in childhood might be the origin of low self-esteem. Other possible causes include overprotective parents, not having clear limits set, and culture.

There’s no point in blaming our insecurities on our past, our upbringing, or our parents. These things can’t be changed.

As an adult, it’s time to heal that child who lacked so much and help her love herself. No matter what other people think.

The missing piece of the puzzle: when you have little self-love

Maybe you’ve always felt like you’re missing something. Maybe you’re physically attractive, successful professionally, and have a wonderful family, and yet it still feels like something doesn’t fit. Well, it’s probably that you have little self-love.

When people have little self-love, or if it’s not unconditional, they feel like they’re missing a piece of the puzzle. They might mistakenly try to find it elsewhere, but the pieces they find never fit into the empty space.

when you have little self-love, it's like missing a piece of the puzzle

They might keep looking for the missing piece, not realizing that they’ll only find the piece that fits if they love, accept, and embrace themselves.

There are many different reasons why one might be missing that elusive piece, some of which we mentioned above: their childhood, culture, etc. The way we grow up systematically punishes self-love, viewing it as selfish.

Children get used to rejecting compliments, talking themselves down, saying yes when they really want to say no, and a lot of other unhealthy behaviors.

We’ve always been taught that we should put other people before ourselves, but that’s false. We can’t be there for others properly if we haven’t first satisfied our own needs, if we haven’t made ourselves the priority.

If we put other people’s needs before our own, we’ll get burnt out and start to lose ourselves and everything around us.

This supposed selfishness makes us bad people and makes others reject us. Because we don’t want that to happen, we do everything we can to satisfy other people and neglect own needs.

That’s why the puzzle pieces that we do find don’t fit into our puzzle and the empty feeling remains. We aren’t loving ourselves.

When you have little self-love, what can you do to love yourself more?

To up your self-esteem, you have to start treating yourself well. One exercise you could do is write a love letter to yourself. The idea isn’t to be vain, but to be realistic. Simply show yourself that you love yourself, the way you would to other people.

It’ll surprise you how hard this exercise is, since we’re not used to praising ourselves. The little devil on your shoulder will try to tell you that you’re selfish, narcissistic, and a thousand other things. Don’t listen to it; just keep loving yourself.

woman holding sunflower showing self-love

It’s time to start seeing yourself more realistically. Get to know yourself: both your strengths and weaknesses. Stick to those and start to try things that you know you’re capable of.

Don’t tell yourself you can’t do it or that it won’t go well, when you know deep down that you can and it will.

As a final point, do something every day that brings you closer to your goals. If you meet one, reward yourself and be happy for yourself.

Your self-esteem will go up and you’ll see that you really can do it. But always remember that there’s no such thing as perfection.

You’ll eventually start to notice that missing puzzle piece fitting into the empty space, and you won’t feel so dependent on external factors. You won’t desperately crave love and acceptance from other people, because your own self-love will make you feel complete.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.