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Love Thyself as Thou Lovest Thy Neighbor

We are told to love our neighbors as we do ourselves, but what do we do when we struggle to love ourselves?

When a friend or a neighbor makes a mistake or does something that makes us mad, we might be annoyed or frustrated at them for a while, but it’s hard to stop liking or loving them entirely. People make mistakes, after all, and no one is perfect. Besides, we don’t know what problems they might be facing, or what circumstances they are experiencing. Ultimately, if we need to, we can always walk away for a while. But when we’re the person who keeps making mistakes and struggling to overcome our flaws, we can’t just walk away from ourselves. So what can we do? 

Two hikers with quote: "Love is manifest through service--service to our Heavenly Father, to others, and to ourselves." --Hugo Montoya

Photo by Jaime Reimer

We can do our best to treat ourselves like we treat others. In her BYU devotional titled “That We May Become,” Sister Ruth E. Brasher said, “Love is manifest through service—service to our Heavenly Father, to others, and to ourselves.” This can look like taking care of our physical needs, such as making sure that we get enough food, water, and sleep, but sometimes it also looks like doing hard but necessary tasks, being willing to forgive ourselves for past mistakes, or even thinking more kindly about ourselves.  

For instance, pushing ourselves to do hard things is important, but we also shouldn’t expect ourselves to be able to immediately scale the same mountains that others have been training their whole lives to climb. There is no shame in making the climb slowly in two days instead of one. There is also no shame in leaning on another person on our way up. Not everyone has the benefit of making the climb in perfect health or with practiced skill. Would you ever condemn someone else for taking longer to learn how to do a task, or refuse to help someone who had gotten stuck? Why, then, do we berate ourselves for needing help?  

There is no easy answer. But if we keep pressing forward and do our best to treat ourselves like we do those around us, one day we may find ourselves loving ourselves as we do our neighbors.

Learn more about growth through love in Ruth E. Brasher’s speech “That We May Become.”

Source: BYU Speeches

—Eliza Kimball, Latter-day Saint Insights


Find more insights

Take a look at Talia Erickson’s Latter-day Saint Insights article “Overcoming Self-Doubt with Positive Self-Talk” for more ways to practice self-care.

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