Self-Love: A Gift you Give Yourself

Self-Love: A Gift you Give Yourself

by Dr. Katherine E. James


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About the book of Self-Love

Self-Love is Dr. Katherine E. James’s debut book. It is a culmination of her vast experience in areas of personal, family, and group counseling where her central goal is to help individuals discover the ability to heal themselves from the psychological traumas of life. Designed specifically as a personal handbook for individuals, Self-Love is rich with interactive opportunities that encourage reflection and personal development at the deepest level.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524640804
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 09/22/2016
Pages: 108
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.26(d)

Read an Excerpt


A Gift you Give Yourself

By Katherine E. James


Copyright © 2016 Dr. Katherine E. James
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5246-4080-4



Imagine a high school with hundreds of teens going in and out of classrooms, cafeterias, walking the hallways and entering forbidden staff-only passages. Some are experiencing their first year, while others are nearing the end of their high school journeys. What are the challenges faced by this multitude? There are many ...

Now fast forward some thirty years later. Those teens of the past are now nearing the fifty-year mark. Where (how) do we find them? Perhaps they are still in high school hallways, classrooms, or staff designated areas. Only now they move about in adult forms – parents, grandparents, community leaders, and faculty or staff members. What are the challenges faced by this multitude? Again, there are many ...

Life expectations suggest a stark difference between the challenges faced by the high school students, compared to those experienced by the almost fifty year olds. In many cases this would be an accurate assessment. Consider some of the challenges: The teen wrestles with initial romantic encounters, while the fifty year old struggles with romance maintenance (keeping it alive amidst life's demands) or recovery after the end of it – divorce; the teens thoughts of the future center on whether to attend college or not, while the fifty year old ponders mid-life career changes. How to make a difference in the lives of others (leaving a legacy) is a likely thought of the elder, while much of the teen's mental energy focuses on what she wants and what makes her happy.

In a sense, the struggles are similar, yet when viewed through the lens of life's stages, they are starkly different – at least the potential consequences are. There is one challenge however, that looms large in both life periods. Consider this ... the teen who never really learned to love herself very likely – at fifty – has not learned to love who she is today.

The absence of self-love is one of life's greatest tragedies!

An increase in your capacity to love yourself is my hope as you journey through this dialogue on self-love.


When speaking of love, I am not referencing this madness that leads to willful abandonment of one's good senses. Love is not an animalistic lust that leads to the pursuit of sexual desires at any cost. It is not a euphoric experience that can be easily turned on today and off tomorrow, fueled by the emotions of experiences and expectations. Nor is it the need to be with, possess, or conquer the person of our dreams or (all too often) nightmares. These ways of being are NOT love. They are but a semblance of one of the most powerfully rewarding states a high school teen, fifty year old, or any human could ever achieve.

Love is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and ultimately others. Hopefully, by now you are asking the obvious : What is love?

A review of literature leaves us with many definitions for this very powerful word. For the purposes of our journey, however, I offer the following explanation of love:

Love is an authentic acceptance and valuing of a person in the moment without demand of otherness. Basically it means you are accepted and valued just as you are.

When we truly love, we authentically (genuinely) accept and value. Consider engaging a newborn baby. We certainly don't demand or expect of them and yet we freely give the best we have to offer – We love! Loving an infant without demand is absolutely necessary if they are to grow into an emotionally healthy individual, this is rather obvious. Perhaps not so apparent is the need for this kind of love throughout life. We are emotionally healthier when we love ourselves in this manner and when we experience this kind of love from others. Authentic acceptance and valuing is also a precursor to healthy change. It is the unspoken motivation to become our better selves.

Through this lens of self-love, we come to understand and appreciate that love (authentic acceptance and valuing) is not a license to remain stagnate, to shirk responsibility to self and others, or to continue to do that which is not beneficial – like mistreating others with the excuse "this is just the way that I am." This statement may seem contradictory to the notion of "without demand of otherness." There is treasure inherent in the act of accepting and valuing humans just because we are. This attitude is fertile ground for being ok with whom we are today, while also moving toward becoming our better selves.

Throughout the book, you will notice that I employ inclusive language (we and us). Not only am I writing to help others learn to better love themselves, but I too must continue growing in this area. Thus, while speaking to you, I am also reminding myself of the need to continually increase this gift in my life. Now on to self-love ...


Self-love is an accepting, valuing and embracing of one's entire self, inclusive of an activating awareness, which motivates toward the need to continually change for the better.

This notion of self-love is so important to healthy living that my definition of it bears repeating. Self-love is an accepting, valuing and embracing of one's entire self, inclusive of an activating awareness, which motivates towards the need to continually change for the better.

In other words, while I recognize the need to keep getting better, I love and celebrate who I am now.

NOTE: Self-loathing conversation is never acceptable. Honesty is always acceptable, but how we say something is sometimes more important than what we say. For example: in speaking to me, it is acceptable to say "Kathy that wasn't a nice thing you did" It is never acceptable to say, "Kathy you are a horrible [or use any self-defeating term] person for the thing you did" I certainly believe we must be honest with ourselves if we are going to improve, but negative self-talk does not help the process; it hinders the process of change. While engaging in this type of behavior, you become your own road block. Is this your intention? Probably not.

Increasing levels of self-love compels us to better our best. Why? Because at the core, humans are created with an inherent nature to grow and become; perhaps more importantly humans are created with purpose. There is a connection between loving ourselves and pursuing purpose. When we love ourselves, we are continually checking to see if we are living on purpose rather than haphazardly existing. As self-love grows, we are increasingly uncomfortable with being out of alignment with our life's purpose. There is a continual inner compelling to better our best – to be intentional about the process of becoming who we are destined to be. Achieving purpose is a lifelong pursuit. Having life means that we have the opportunity to become our better selves.

A Short Word on Purpose ...

The market is filled with books written on the subject of purpose – Rick Warren's A Purpose Drive Life" and Myles Monroe's In Pursuit of Purpose, both are good reads on this subject. To that end, I don't feel a need to have an extensive conversation on the subject. However, I believe a brief mentioning is warranted.

This notion of purpose can seem elusive or out of reach. Many struggle with answering the question, "What is my purpose?" My response to this question is simply this: your purpose in life is the very reason you exist. Chances are, in some ways, you are tapping into elements of purpose. Consider or ask yourself the following: (1) What do I most enjoy doing? (2) What would I do for free? (3) I feel most fulfilled when ... (4) How would I spend my last week on earth? Your responses to these types of questions provide insight into purpose.

Humans are not created to do one thing. Our life's purpose is better viewed as a common theme, easily identified throughout our life's course. What is your common theme?

For example, my common theme is helping others become their " better selves."

As a family member and friend, I try really hard to ...

• Love others well, by being with them (physical and psychological presence), by listening to them and holding their confidences when beneficial, by talking to them in life-affirming ways, by speaking the truth in love (for their benefit, not mine), by celebrating their triumphs and mourning their defeats, and by sharing my time, possessions, skills and talents, thoughts and ideas, hopes and dreams, struggles and defeats. In essence, I give of myself to them ... aiding in the process of them becoming their "better selves."

As a professional (pastor, therapist, professor, public speaker, student advisor, distance learning technologist, mentor and author), it is my goal to give my very best at all times ...

• I personally believe it is a privilege to serve others, that relationships are tremendous gifts when built on mutual respect and honor. I don't allow my credentials to delude me into believing that I have some inherent right to speak into the lives of others because I have earned an Associates, Bachelors, two Masters and a PhD. These accomplishments have undoubtedly opened doors and paved the way for me to function in most of these roles. But to believe that I have some right because of them is arrogant and belittling of the preciousness of every human regardless of past or present acts, socio- economic status, ethnic affiliation, gender or age.

I work to be my best most of the time, understanding that my best changes on a daily basis. On a scale of negative one to a positive ten, today I may be a positive 10, tomorrow I may be a negative one (-1). The gift I offer is learning to be okay in both states. I am not always functioning at a 10 nor am I constantly functioning at a -1, and both states are acceptable. When we learn to be okay in our current states, we can get about the business of bettering our best rather than engaging in justification, denial, avoidance and self-deceptive behaviors.

Again I take this short detour to talk about purpose because it is directly connected to this notion of self-love. Increased self-love manifests purposeful living! Now, ask yourself this question - be completely honest, there is no right or wrong answer, only a question with the goal of self-awareness:

How do you feel about yourself? Or, what do you think about yourself? Does it resemble self-love as described above?

If it does, I celebrate you and encourage you to share your story of achieving your current level of self-love. This sharing is NOT for the goal of self-glorification or any narcissistic purpose. In fact, if either is consciously or subconsciously your goal, I suspect your level of self-love is limited, and probably lower than you have allowed yourself to believe. When we operate from a healthy level of self-love we are less likely to function in narcissistic ways. From a perspective of self-love, the goal of sharing with others is primarily for their benefit, in order for them to get a glimpse of self-love and thereby embark on their own personal journey to gain or increase one of life's greatest treasures – SELF LOVE which is ...

an accepting, valuing and embracing of one's entire self inclusive of an activating awareness which motivates toward the need to continually change for the better.

We owe it to ourselves, loved ones and those we have the privilege of encountering to pursue this precious gift of self-love.

Words of Consideration or Caution

The pursuit of self-love offers opportunities of life-changing experiences. Since the result of self-love is tangibly noticeable, this journey takes varying levels of courage. To that end, it's important to be aware of several things:

* Those closest to us may be the last to notice our changes. Think about it this way. You see your son daily and haven't noticed that he is four inches taller. However, his aunt, who hasn't seen him in six weeks, immediately recognizes the difference. There are times when those closest to us legitimately or conveniently do not recognize our changes.

* You are a part of a system. When you change, the system will be impacted and will inevitably change. The system parts (family members, friends, co-workers etc.) may prefer the status quo – the old you. In this instance there is likely to be some resistance to your pursuit of self-love. This is normal, not necessarily beneficial, but to be expected. Humans are generally averse to change and prefer the current state, even if it isn't the best situation. Be patient with them; you willingly walked into this process of transformation. They, on the other hand, were drafted by your choice to change.

* Some people may hinder your journey by their inability to add value to the process. "There are those who are simply not good for us on this journey and we may have to love them from a distance" (Bracy, 2013).

* Courage is also required because pursuing increased levels of self-love requires us to step out of our comfort zones into unknown places of you. We must soberly look at all that we are, think, and do and be honest about the discovery.

* Finally, it is important for us to believe that there is a unique purpose for our existence. With that in mind, we might as well get about the business of uncovering our unique reasons for being.

Starting Where You Are

The practice of loving one's self can begin at any time in life. It is never too early or too late to start loving yourself better. Self-love is such a priceless gift that one cannot allow history to decide if it is to be achieved. The present situation is not worth robbing from a daily diet of self-valuing and acceptance. More than that, any possible future is guaranteed to be better as one learns to give the gift of self-love.

About Me ... What Fostered Value and the Pursuit of Self-love?

My childhood memories are filled with being with family, and going to grandma's house. My mom was the oldest of seven girls, with two older brothers. Shortly after my birth one of my mom's brothers died. About five years later, the oldest of the clan, uncle Leroy, was killed. As a result, my childhood memories are filled with experiences of strong Black women taking care of life's business.

We grew up in Detroit. In today's terms our standard of living would be described as impoverished. However, my recollection of childhood brings to mind many things, but experiences of poverty are not amongst them. In fact, although money was scarce, there was little about my childhood experience that was impoverished. It's amazing how children are shielded from many of life's onslaughts when those in charge love them and are responsible. My family's matriarchs were loving and fairly responsible. Their acts transmitted wonderful life-giving messages of worth to us children. One of those earliest unspoken messages was that children are special and the adults in their lives are privileged, not burdened, by the care of them. This is not to portray perfection; by this I mean, my family's matriarchs were and are far from being perfect. However, I somehow sensed that their acts (good, bad and ugly; mistakes and accomplishments) were intended for our good.

So here is how I remember our childhood: other family members perhaps saw or experienced our childhood differently, but this is my reality. It is this truth--my truth--that shaped me. Ongoing messages of care, concern, adult responsibility and love from grandma were experienced by her determination that children had enough to eat and her open door policy, which was we were always welcomed at grandma's house. Momma consistently did her best to make sure we were taken care of. She wasn't a perfect mother, as no mom is. But I like to say she was perfect for me. I love myself and much of that credit goes to her. Mom modeled acceptance. She consistently accepted all of us as we were. This created a wonderful space for self-acceptance. Mom's acceptance fostered a desire to give my best at all times, while simultaneously allowing me to be okay with my limitations. Her influence in this area was further shaped by other matriachs in the family; my aunties.

My wonderful aunts came in varying shapes, sizes and personalities and each left an indelible mark on my childhood.

Let's start with Auntie Jackie. Prior to having children, she treated me as her own and loved on me with such diligence and power. You may think "loved on" is an odd or incorrect way of making this statement. It is intentionally stated in this way, as the phrase accurately captures how I felt.

Later in life, Aunt Pollette modeled before me what it was like to give of one's gifts and talents, as she perpetually taught me from her repertoire of life experiences (like turning a cartwheel and hitting a tennis ball). Once she learned, she (consciously or unconsciously – I don't know which) taught it to others. Neither of us knew how one unassuming afternoon of learning to turn cartwheels, would positively impact my life many years later as that skill (knowing how to turn cartwheels) helped position me to serve as captain of my high school cheer team from 10th through 12th grade. What an ego booster! More importantly, my natural leadership skills were resultantly being nurtured and solidified. Even after Aunt Pollette experienced some challenges that led to major changes, she continued to birth in me a love for school and school-related activities. She did it, so I did it! Why? Because I knew she loved me. This is not to say that my other aunts failed to do anything special for me - they all did in very unique ways. The stories of their positive impact on my life are sufficient to fill another book, "The Blessings of Aunties" - perhaps in the future.


Excerpted from Self-Love by Katherine E. James. Copyright © 2016 Dr. Katherine E. James. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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