You Can Learn Self-Love and Self-Esteem

"I don't love myself" is one of the most damaging phrases you can say to yourself. However, many people really believe it. What most don't realize is it's a learned myth. You can learn self-love and self-esteem the same way you learned to think you don't love yourself.
You Can Learn Self-Love and Self-Esteem
Francisco Javier Molas López

Written and verified by the psychologist Francisco Javier Molas López.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

How often have you heard people state that they don’t like themselves? “I don’t love myself, what can I do,” they wonder. In a world where people are often surrounded by emotionally convulsive demands, it isn’t difficult to fall into self-disrepute. Unattainable goals can be frustrating. The unreasonable obsession with attaining perfection often leads people on an emotional roller coaster that can prove to be fatal. Nevertheless, the good news is that anyone can learn self-love and self-esteem.

Not all is lost and it is possible to love yourself. It’s actually simpler than it sounds, at least in theory (it’s quite different in practice). If you want to love yourself, then you must take the first steps towards it, and this where most people fail. Who doesn’t want to change overnight? This is because humans are wired to minimize any investment of resources. This way of thinking is a mistake in this context because any directed change involves effort, even loving yourself. Are you ready to start loving yourself?

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”


Do you lack self-love and self-esteem?

Campos Muñóz elaborated a list of characteristics of people with low self-esteem:

  • They have a hard time making decisions.
  • They have an exaggerated fear of being wrong.
  • Also, they think they can’t do anything because they don’t know enough.
  • They don’t value their talent.
  • They live in fear of new things and avoid taking risks.
  • In addition, they’re anxious.
  • They’re passive and avoid making decisions.
  • They usually prefer to be alone than in the company of others.
  • In addition, they give up before doing anything.
  • Also, they think they aren’t capable of doing anything right.
  • They’re not in touch with their emotions.
  • They have a hard time dealing with criticism.
  • Likewise, they’re pessimistic.
  • They have a hard time achieving their goals.

These are just some of the characteristics that Campos Muñoz highlighted regarding people with low self-esteem. The fact that some people identify with some of the above traits isn’t synonymous with having low self-esteem. Time is the key and everyone can have a bad streak. So, how many points did you identify with? How long have you been anchored to such thoughts?

A woman looking behind her.

The keys to self-love and self-esteem

It’s not easy to know exactly why you think so little of yourself. Even psychology doesn’t have a clear answer. Every person has been shaped and directed by internal and external factors. Everyone has a history of their own. As per the philosopher Ortega y Gasset, “I am me and my circumstance”. He was right, as your circumstances also influence you despite your internal motivations and way of being.

A lack of self-love and self-esteem can be due to the most diverse reasons. Everyone expresses it differently, but the background is sort of the same. For example, some people enjoy smoking and drinking alcohol in excess. So would you say they do it because they don’t love themselves? Yes. It’s that simple. This is because any excess is harmful to anyone’s body and mind. That being the case, why do you even do it if you know it’ll negatively impact your well-being? It might be that such behavior helps you fill a void. It’s something external that makes you happy even if it hurts you.

From a young age, schools teach you math, geography, history, and language but they usually leave emotional intelligence out. At a general level, learning to love yourself is a missing subject. Developing your emotional intelligence is a good idea to start a good diet for self-love and self-esteem. This is a way to learn to manage your emotions and feelings. You must do some introspection to identify where the things that torment you come from.


What does empathy have to do with it? It’s fundamental. When you barely love yourself and do behaviors that harm you, you do so because you’re not feeling empathy for yourself. “I don’t love myself” is related to “I’ll destroy myself”. If you can picture yourself in five years, how would you like your life to be? Would you like to be healthy? Sick? When, despite wanting to be well, you continue to maintain harmful behaviors, this shows you have little to no empathy for yourself.

You most likely don’t care for your present self when you don’t empathize with your future self. It isn’t strange that people, over time, regret not having taken more care, both physically and emotionally. “I should’ve exercised more“, “I shouldn’t have smoked as much”, or “I should’ve sought psychological help a while ago” … Does it all sound familiar?

One meditative exercise is to imagine sitting in front of yourself in one year, five years, or ten years. Lama Rinchen, a Buddhist teacher, teaches this type of meditation to his students. The goal is to develop empathy towards yourself and start correcting the behaviors and thoughts that harm you. If you envision yourself healthy in five years, then why not start to change today?

A woman hugging herself.

Look ahead

It’s time to start banishing “I don’t love myself” from your daily affirmations. This is a learned belief and you can also learn to love yourself. However, those who don’t often believe it and see no reason to believe otherwise. The answer is that everyone has many reasons to love themselves and banish such disabling thoughts”.

Cultivating self-love and self-esteem isn’t easy at times but you’ll certainly benefit if, little by little, you begin to sow the seeds of happiness. Going to a professional can be an important step that makes a difference. A therapist can definitely help you in this new adventure. Meditation can also help you delve into your most embedded thoughts in the unconscious. At the same time, through meditation, you can also promote qualities such as love for yourself and others.

Starting an adventure in which the goal is to love, accept, and forgive yourself, is one that’ll be marked by ups and downs. However, it’ll be the best adventure you can have, no doubts. As you can see, anyone can learn self-love and self-esteem.

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