Different people with different understanding and mentality interpret ‘love ourselves’ differently.
In yoga, to love ourselves, is to free our minds from ignorance, egoism, attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison, expectation, self-esteem, self-image, and all sorts of impurities of anger, hatred. jealousy, pride, arrogance, dissatisfaction, disappointment, frustration, irritation, offensiveness, defensiveness, animosity, ill-will, agitation, depression, hurts, guilt, regret, fear and worry, and etc, where all these defilement is the real cause of unhappiness and suffering.
It’s not about self-pampering by indulging one’s own body and mind in some worldly sensual pleasurable activities or enjoyments, or be able to be free to do and say what we want to do and say disregards whether these actions and speech would generate harmful effects or painful sorrow in oneself and in others, to get rid of unhappiness and to feel happy, or trying to be strong and aggressive to be able to protect oneself from being bullied or hurt by anyone or anything that we think and believe or recognize as something undeserving, wrong, bad and hurtful. It doesn’t mean that one should abuse oneself, or allowing others to abuse oneself, or shouldn’t move away from abusive treatments. But one’s mind isn’t determined by others’ unkind abusive behavior, and doesn’t save hatred towards others’ behavior that is unkind and abusive.
It’s ignorance when we interpret compassion, non-attachment, non-aversion and observation as – If people want to slap your face, you should let them slap you, and ask them to slap the other side of the face as well. This is not what compassion is about.
Compassion, non-attachment, non-aversion, or observation doesn’t mean that when we see someone is throwing a stone towards us, and we shouldn’t move away. It’s our decision whether we want to stay there and be hit by the stone, or move away from being hit by the stone, unless due to certain reasons, we are not aware of it or we can’t move away. And even if we had tried to move away but we are still hit by the stone, it’s our freedom to choose how we react towards this incident. By choosing to react with unhappiness, animosity, anger and hatred doesn’t undo this incident.
Once one’s mind is free from all these defilements, this mind will know what is being compassionate towards all beings, including being compassionate towards oneself. One will know how to love oneself and others without attachment and expectation. One will be free from the ignorance of expecting other beings to love us in the way that we think it should be, or be free from expectation towards oneself and others that everyone should behave in certain ways whether in life, in the society, in the world, in family, in friendships, or in relationships.
Be free from craving for love, attention, acknowledgement, support, liking, companionship, praise, compliment, rewards and all sorts of worldly egoistic conditional thinking and behavior.
When we give and love, we don’t expect gratefulness and appreciation. We allow the fruit of action to be what it is, not necessarily is the way that what we think it should be. It doesn’t matter those whom we give and love would be grateful, or appreciate, or love us, or not. There’s no dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, unhappiness or hurt, if we truly know what is ‘loving ourselves.’
When we think we are hurt by someone or something, it’s because we think and expect that after what we give and how we love, we deserve to be receiving gratefulness, appreciation and love from those whom we give and love. We are disappointed and hurt by our own attachment and expectation. It’s not because someone, or people in the world don’t love us, or don’t appreciate us, or stop loving us, or love us less, or prefer to love someone else.
One must learn how to love oneself before one knows how to love other beings.