Dr David R Hamilton blogs

Using science to inspire

The 3 Stages of Self-Love

The goal of any self-love work is to reach a space of knowing that, ‘I am enough’; that is, I am enough in all ways, just as I am. I don’t need to impress anyone. I don’t need to get people to like me. I am Me, right here, right now, authentic, and I love and accept myself just as I am.

That’s the aim. It’s stage 3 of the 3-stages of self-love. But most people don’t honestly live in that space. Most people spend a large part of their time at stage 1, which is ‘I am not enough’.

We’re not born that way. There’s nothing inherently ‘wrong’ with any of us. Babies and young children intuitively know that they are enough. We learn to doubt our worth, most often during the first 6 or 7 years of our lives. I am not enough then becomes an unconscious assumption that we meet the world with, influencing all manner of events, circumstances, and relationships in our lives.

For some, it manifests in difficulty standing up for themselves, giving their power away, or even in struggles with self-belief or self-confidence. Some people experience it in a difficulty finding (or keeping) love. It shows up as financial struggles for others. In some people’s lives it shows up as difficulty losing weight or as concerns with their appearance. For many, it’s the need to have other people like or accept them. Others are simply very critical of themselves.

But with some determination and patience we reach the second stage of self-love – I have had enough. You’ve simply had enough of the way life has been going. ‘That’s it. I’m done with all this crap’, is a common mantra. You’re determined to change things. And importantly, you recognize that many of your problems are a consequence of how you think about yourself and how you see yourself in relation to others.

Stage 2 is much higher energy than stage 1. It’s characterized by passion and determination, although sometimes even anger, especially if you have been feeling bullied or taken advantage of. It ends right here! Stage 2 is also the stage of insight and clarity and is a time when life-changing decisions are often made.

It’s the stage where new relationships are created or some existing ones broken. It’s a time where we meet new friends or acquaintances or see the exit of others. It’s the stage that can see changes in career or living conditions. It sometimes even brings travel. Stage 2 feels light and free for many, especially if they have felt restricted or held back in their life up until then.

In time, we reach a third stage of self-love. It is the stage of ‘I am enough’. It’s characterized by inner confidence and contentment. There is no more struggling to be liked or accepted, no more trying to justify or validate ourselves. It is the stage of authenticity.

It is usually easy to spot people who live at this stage. They have a sort of inner glow. They are kind and patient. They don’t try to convince you of their good points and achievements but instead they take an active interest in yours.

Life is not without it’s challenges at stage 3, of course, because challenges are part of the human experience, but we meet our challenges with a higher consciousness and so the outcomes we experience are more fulfilling.

We all have our personal challenges. I wrote ‘I Heart Me: The Science of Self-Love’ because I had spent a good part of my life at stage 1, even though I was a self-help author. The irony. :-) I know all too well how it feels to doubt yourself but pretend otherwise. We all do it to some extent. I set out to learn self-love for myself because I personally needed it.

With a little bit of practice, you can learn self-love too. Step 1 is simply being aware that there are 3 stages. Now you know what to aim for.