Updated: Jun 10, 2019
From infancy to death, every human has a conscious and/or unconscious need to love and be loved in return. The Love Effect is unconditional love and appreciation shown towards oneself and others. It has the power to change the world as we know it.
Love is Essential
Various research has shown the essential effect love has on the development of emotional and social brain systems. Our brains are either positively or negatively affected by the amount and quality of love we receive and give.
Unfortunately many people often negate and neglect the power that lies in this one essential need. It would not be an over exaggeration to say that our need for love is as critical as our need for food, air, and water. One of the crucial elements of healthy emotional and social development is an ample supply of unconditional love and affection. Many of us don't need research to validate the effect of love on our well-being. Our own life's experiences offer many examples of this need. Therefore, we are safe to agree that love is essential.
One of the most deficient aspect of love is self-love. Many people struggle with this concept because it has been co-mingled with the erroneous assumption that it is selfish, narcissistic, self-centered, self-consumed, egocentric, self-absorbed, self-obsessed, or simply, wrapped up in oneself. This irony poses a detrimental harm to the Love Effect due to the reality that a person must unconditionally love and appreciate themselves before they are able to effectively love and appreciate others unconditionally. Self-love promotes self-compassion, self-confidence, self-efficacy, autonomy, high self-esteem, and an overall positive self image. To the contrary, a lack of self-love promotes insecurities, self-degradation, self-harm, self-defeating thoughts, attitudes, & behaviors; self-loathing, low self-esteem, and a negative self-image. Sadly, a self-love deficiency can drastically diminish the Love Effect and negatively impact the quality of love one is able to give or receive.
The Selfless Deceit
It is essential that we learn how to love and appreciate ourselves without the guilt inflicted on us by social norms that encourage selflessness. Some people equate selfishness with selflessness. This is erroneous in that selfishness is defined as " Concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others", while selflessness is defined as "Having no concern for self." or "Concern more with the needs and wishes of others than with one's own self. As a Christian, I learned early in life that Jesus said to love others as we love ourselves. Unfortunately, the most important part of the scripture that many, including myself, overlook is the part about "loving ourselves". It would seem that Jesus assumed that we would love ourselves and therefore use that as a point of reference for how we are to love others. The conflicting concept of that selflessness equates to unselfishness is contradictory to the teachings of Christ and all who influence us to love ourselves and others unconditionally. Selflessness would indicate that you take your "self" out of the equation or as Webster says, "have no concern for self". This is deceit at best.
Love, Appreciation and Compassion
The best step we can take towards changing the world with a true Love Effect is to develop and teach unconditional love, appreciation and compassion for ourselves and others. It's not always easy to love oneself unconditionally when the world around us is not supportive of that concept. However, there are many approaches to experiencing the Love Effect in your own personal world and ultimately the whole wide world. Prayer and meditation are extremely effective and have been shown to rewire the brain and improve overall emotional and social well-being. YouTube has a number of mindfulness meditations for cultivating self-love and self-compassion. Regardless of what method you use to develop unconditional love and appreciation for yourself and other, just remember to LOVE YOURSELF first.