To love others you must love yourself. You can only
give to others what you have yourself. This is
especially true of love. You cannot give what you
have not learned and experienced. Since love is not
a thing, it is not lost when given. You can offer
your love completely to hundreds of people and still
retain the same love you had originally. It is like
knowledge. Wise people can teach all they know and
when they're through they'll still know all that they have
taught. But first they must have the
knowledge. It would better be said that people
"share" love, as they "share"
knowledge but they can only share what they possess.
Loving oneself does not imply an ego-centered reality like
the old witch in Snow White who reveled in the
process of gazing into her mirror and asking,
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one
of all." Loving oneself does mean a genuine
interest, caring, concern and respect for oneself.
To care about oneself is basic to love. People love
themselves when they see themselves with accuracy,
genuinely appreciate what they see, but are especially
excited and challenged with the prospect of what they can
Each person is unique. Nature abhors sameness.
Each flower in the field is different, each blade of
Have you ever seen two roses alike, even
among the same variety? No two faces are exactly
alike, even in identical twins. Our fingerprints are
so singularly ours that we can be positively identified by
people are strange creatures. Diversity frightens
us. Instead of accepting the challenge, the joy, the
wonder of variation, we are usually frightened of
it. We either move away from or endeavor to twist
uniqueness into sameness. Only then do we feel
Each child born is an unmarked creation, a new combination
of wonder. In general, our human anatomy is similar
to others, but on a subtle level even how our anatomy
functions will vary with each individual. Our
personality development seems to have common elements
which affect it; heredity, environment, chance. But
there is surely an additional element, not yet
scientifically identifiable, which can be called the
"X" factor of personality, that special
combination of forces which act upon the individual so
that we will react, respond, perceive as ourselves,
alone. The child is exceptional but most learning
which he or she will receive from birth will not afford
him or her the freedom to discover and develop this
uniqueness. . . .
To love oneself is to struggle to rediscover and maintain
your uniqueness. It is understanding and
appreciating the idea that you will be the only you to
ever live upon this earth, that when you die so will all
of your fantastic possibilities. It is the
realization that even you are not totally aware of the
wonders which lie dormant within yourself. Herbert
Otto says only about 5 percent of our human potential is
realized in our lifetime. Margaret Mead has
hypothesized that 4 percent is discovered. What of
the other 95 percent?
Loving yourself involves the discovery of the true wonder
of you; not only the present you, but the many
possibilities of you. It involves the continual
realization that you are unique, like no other person in
the world, that life is, or should be, the discovery, the
development and the sharing of this uniqueness. The
process is not always easy, for one is bound to find those
who will feel threatened by a changing, growing you.
But it will always be exciting, always be fresh and like
all things new and changing, never be dull. The trip
into oneself is the grandest, most enjoyable and longest
lasting. The fare is cheap; it merely involves
continual experiencing, evaluating, educating, trying out
of new behavior. Only you can be the final judge in
determining what is right for you. . . .
Loving yourself also involves the knowledge that only you
can be you. If you try to be like anyone else, you
may come very close, but you will always be second
best. But, you are the best you. It is the
easiest, most practical, most rewarding thing to be.
Then it makes sense that you can only be to others what
you are to yourself.
If you know, accept, and appreciate yourself and your
uniqueness, you will permit others to do so. If you
value and appreciate the discovery of yourself, you will
encourage others to engage in self-discovery. If you
recognize your need to be free to discover who you are,
you will allow others their freedom to do so, also.
When you realize you are the best you, you will accept the
fact that others are the best they. But it follows
that it all starts with you. To the extent to which
you know yourself, and we are all more alike than
different, you can know others. When you love
yourself, you will love others. And to the depth and
extent to which you can love yourself, only to that depth
and extent will you be able to love others.
book is about love. What it is and what it isn't. It
is about you--and about everybody who has ever
reached out to touch the heart of another. Among
many other lessons of the heart, Leo Buscaglia
reminds us: Love is open arms. If you close your
arms about love you will find that you are left
holding only yourself.