“I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.” Our practice manager posted this quote from Maya Angelou in our lobby, and I find myself ruminating on it whenever I pass by the iron frame in which it’s held. While loving others seems as natural and essential to us as breathing, I find many people struggle with the practice of loving themselves. I hear folks say they feel self-centered if they treat themselves lovingly, or they worry they will miss signals that their families or friends are in need of nurturing, if their focus is on the self. I try to teach my clients the difference between “selfIST” (i.e., my needs/desires/feelings are AS IMPORTANT as others’ needs/desires/feelings) and “selfISH” (I.e., my needs/desires/feelings are MORE IMPORTANT than others’). In the former viewpoint, we strive to honor both realities; in the latter we diminish or dismiss what’s valuable to the other in favor of what we want. Similarly, many therapists use the “oxygen mask” analogy to reinforce the importance of self-care. On plane trips, the flight attendants instruct us to put on our OWN mask first, before aiding children or elderly people around us. The logic is that we will be of no use to anyone else if we are not at full functioning. Undoubtedly, there are other reasons why people lack self-love: shame issues that lead us to believe we are broken or unworthy, lack of positive modeling of self-compassion. Regardless of the reason, self-love remains key to our own healing and growth. Without this positive self-regard, a true communion with others, our world, and the Divine is built on shaky ground. How can we believe fully in someone’s love for us if we doubt our own lovablity? How can we accept the gifts of adoration from our significant others if we fear we may not completely deserve it? Self-love is not narcissistic or egocentric, it simply recognizes that, like all beings, we are worthy and valuable simply because we ARE. Self-love is essential to accepting that we are made of the same stuff as the stars in the heavens. When we glance up at the night sky, in gratitude and wonder for the awesomeness of the Universe and it’s creations, we might want to send up some thanks for our unique, lovable selves.