What Unconditional Self-Love Looks Like


“Love is the great miracle cure. Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives.” ~Louise L. Hay

When I first began painting twenty years ago, I had no idea what self-love was. A few years prior, I thought I knew, but when I lost my health to chronic illness and could no longer do the things I used to be able to do, I lost my ability to love myself. This and my illness caused a deep depression, so I chose creating art as a way to lift my spirits.

In order to create uplifting art, I first had to look at my life and see where it needed lifting. That meant that I had to look at my pain and identify its origins.

Sometimes it’s not the actual problems in life that cause us to suffer but the way we look at them. When we change our perspective, much of our suffering can diminish. So I would look at one problem in my life at a time, and then I would search my spiritual studies for advice, and paint it.

I continued with this process for about nine years, and then one day I made a discovery that would change my life forever.

I was drawing the image of a woman with words of encouragement all around her and then I suddenly realized that these words were messages of self-love. Then I realized that all of my paintings were messages of self-love.

I couldn’t see it before because I was focused on only one painting at a time. But now I could see that each painting was a reflection of my journey in search of self-love. 

Even more amazing was that I could see that my creative process was teaching me how to love myself and it did this by giving me a setting and the reason to:Unconditional Self-Love

  • Look inward
  • Ask myself questions and listen for answers
  • Seek new solutions
  • Be kind and patient with myself
  • Value my opinion
  • Trust in my instincts
  • Embrace my sensitivity
  • Forgive my mistakes
  • Give myself a voice and allow myself to speak

Now that I could understand what self-love was, at least within the boundaries of creating my art, I felt motivated to examine self-love further in order to incorporate it into all areas of my life.

So next, I looked at why I lost my self-love in the first place.

Before I lost my self-love, I had my health, I was going to the gym regularly, I had a wonderful husband and we did fun things together, I had a job, I was going to school, and I had friends. Everything was going well.

But when I lost everything (except my wonderful husband), my ego judged me as a failure and worthless, because its love was conditional. My life had to look a certain way before my ego allowed me to love myself. And then, when my ego became displeased, it activated the voice of my inner critic.

From the wreckage of my life, even my ego eventually gave up on me and in its silence, the gentle voice of my spirit could finally be heard. It guided me to paint art as a form of therapy. And within the quiet space of creating art, it became a spiritual experience that drew me closer to my spirit’s voice.

As I explored my thoughts about self-love and with the influence of Wayne Dyer's book entitled Sacred Self, I came to the conclusion that there are two kinds of self-love.

There is ego-based self-love and there is spirit-based self-love. The former cares about what the ego cares about—appearances, power, and survival. The latter cares about what the spirit cares about—healing, wholeness, and love.

Early on when I lost my ability to love myself, I saw how conditional ego-based self-love is. But now I was ready for unconditional self-love, which is a love that never abandons us.

Before I found true self-love (spirit-based self-love) I thought self-love was about pampering ourselves, for example: buying a new outfit, getting a manicure, or going on vacation in order to feel happy. Pampering is not a bad thing if we can afford it, but it does become self-sabotage if we can’t.

Pampering is more about distracting ourselves from our problems rather than dealing with our problems in order to solve or manage them.

Real self-love is not about anything you can buy; therefore, it is available to everyone. Real self-love is about healing, helping, supporting, and empowering ourselves. It’s about examining what we believe about life and ourselves, and then challenging those beliefs to see if they are truly beneficial to our health and happiness.

The goal of unconditional self-love is to live our best life with a sense of wholeness, health, peace, and empowerment. Empowerment enables us to change our lives for the better and to make the world a better place.

Before I found self-love, I use to be a lot more critical with myself. For example, I hated how sensitive I was, because my sensitivity caused me to experience depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. This sensitive nature made me feel stupid, worthless, and weak.

But when I began to love myself, I began to look at the positive side of my sensitivity—that it gave me the ability to understand things on a deeper level and to create meaningful art that touches the hearts of others.

Another area that self-love improved in my life was that it influenced me to make better relationship choices. My first marriage was emotionally abusive, and I stayed in it because I didn’t believe in myself. But as my self-worth grew, I was able to leave and find a wonderful love with my husband Jody.

For me, my biggest obstacle to self-love was just not knowing what it was. Now that I know what it is, I can realign myself with unconditional self-love just by catching myself and realizing that I have strayed away from its path.

Now I know that true self-love is about the relationship that we have with ourselves.

It’s about paying attention to what we need in all areas of our lives instead of ignoring, avoiding, or neglecting those needs.

And it’s about speaking to ourselves, treating ourselves, and seeing ourselves with kindness, forgiveness, fairness, encouragement, patience, and helpfulness.

True self-love is not about standing in front of ourselves as a judge that shames and condemns us. True self-love is about walking beside ourselves in harmony and as a true friend, supporting ourselves along life’s entire journey.

Artwork by the author, Rita Loyd

About Rita Loyd

Rita Loyd is a watercolor artist and a writer. The message of her work is about the healing power of unconditional self-love. Her art was on the cover of science of mind magazine, March 2016 issue, with an 8-page article about her work inside. View her healing art and other tools for nurturing self-love at

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  • Love your discovery! Thanks for sharing. Another source of hatred for most people is the media, for it tells us what the definition of beauty, worth, and intelligence is, in particular if you are an apple, an orange, or a banana (without getting too political with regards to people :-)). As that saying goes, the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.

  • Andrea

    Nothing to add other than thank you for sharing your story – it resonates with me on many levels.

  • Rita M. Loyd

    Thank you Andrea for taking the time to tell me! Your words made me smile!

  • Erin Ramsay

    This is a beautiful piece. We fall prey to so many external messages that our true inner voice can be hard to hear. This is very resonating, thank you for sharing.

  • Rita M. Loyd

    I agree. The media has a very shallow perception of beauty and it subtly seeps into our thinking.

  • Bullyinglte

    Thank you Rita. I have a saying for myself that helps this. It is quite simple. There is only one person who will have the capacity to love you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year your whole life…YOU. So be kind to YOU, be friends with YOU and love YOU back. YOU will be so much happier if you do. 🙂

  • Rita M. Loyd

    Exactly! Great quote!

  • IBikeNYC

    What GORGEOUS art you make! What a wonderful way to express YOU!

    Thanks for telling us your story. Hope you are healthy and whole!

  • Rita M. Loyd

    Thank you! And you are quite welcome!

  • Prabha

    I love the sentence ” pampering is more about distracting ourselves from our problems rather than dealing with our problems in order to solve or manage them.”.So often, we are told that self pampering means getting a manicure or a massage.Those are good but as you say, true self love is “healing” ourselves.

  • Rita M. Loyd

    Yes, that was really important for me to discover. Pampering has its place but it does not reach the core of self-love issues.

  • Hi Rita, thank you for such an enlightening post. I do believe true self-love is a lot about acceptance. Acceptance of your vulnerabilities and also your strengths. Once a person has reconciled these two things, then self-love becomes possible.
    Ps. I think your artwork is great!

  • Rita M. Loyd

    Thank you Mike! I am happy to hear you liked the article and art!

  • Isabelle

    What a beautiful article and I absolutely love the idea of using art to express and encourage self love. I found self love to be one of the hardest things to achieve but to be the most important. Your article especially the last paragraph makes me realize there is still work for me to do so thank you for that and for the great advice you give.

  • Rita M. Loyd

    Dear Isabelle, I am so glad that you found my article eye opening. I am very passionate about the subject of self-love because I know how healing and empowering unconditional self-love can be. Blessings on your journey.

  • Tracey Barker

    Well described journey. I am now on the path of regaining my true self and love. We are not accountable for others mistreatment of ourselves but our own. As I navigate through this, I am more acceptable of myself and hopeful. Thank you for sharing.

  • Rita M. Loyd

    I am glad you enjoyed it Tracey!

  • I can relate to this Rita. I shaved my head, got ill, and lost my job all in a few months. It was very humbling. I loved myself when I had cute hair, was healthy, and had a good job. When I had to ask for help, looked strange, and lived off savings it was harder to love that version of me.

    I don’t feel that I have found the answer yet. Your painting story makes me think I should follow my intuition and learn to sing…

  • Fabi

    Crear article! I will try some of tour exercises. I plan to write, l mean to write other han journaling. Expressing ourselves, and letting love express is great. I love your paintings. And you’re left handed. I always thought left handed people were bad at painting, l am left handed.

  • Rita M. Loyd

    Lori, Trust your intuition but also trust the intuitions of those you trust and who you know give good sound practical advice.

  • Rita M. Loyd

    Thank you Fabi! So happy to hear you will try some of the exercises! Be gentle with yourself.

  • Lori,

    Piggybacking on Lori’s comment, I often turn to others I trust and respect, too, for they are often able to help me keep my thoughts in perspective when I am not feeling my strongest…

    If I might share a story… I spent nearly two years thinking about meditation, knowing I need that for myself. I spent a great deal of time wondering if I should follow in the footsteps of others (like Liz Gilbert) and go abroad in search of myself, or if I should find some local programs. One day I just sat down, closed my eyes, and asked the universe what I needed to know. The reply? “You already know what you need to do, you just need to sit down and do it.”

    Something tells me you already know how to sing, you just need to embrace the song. 🙂

    Sing, Lori…in the car…in the shower…while you’re cooking dinner… just sing… <3

  • That really resonates with me Annah. The idea that I already know how to sing. I think you’re right. Thanks for sharing your story. <3

  • Melayahm

    I have always found that left handed people are the most creative, to the point that I wish I was left handed.