The second commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself? How do we love ourselves?
I can hear the poignancy and sincere desire in your question, one many people ask today with a kind of helplessness. You are right to suppose that it is impossible to love your neighbor if you don’t value yourself. The problem is that Christians have to start at a different place than themselves or their neighbors to come up with a good theological answer.
Too often, friends, counselors and well-meaning mentors, encourage a way of thinking that focuses on self-love. They encourage a kind of self-affirmation that is not rooted in a biblical foundation, but an individualistic working up of things to make us feel good. However, Mark 12:28–30 makes it clear that the first and most important commandment is: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
Out of that fierce love for God proceeds love for our neighbor, the second greatest commandment (Mark 12:31). The priority is clear; if you love God, you will love yourself because you are a reflection of Him, your values will be His, and you will know He values you. Then, you will love your neighbor. When we truly understand how much God loves us, how He even went so far as to give His Son to die for us, how He provided the Bible to show us His love, how He set up laws that, when followed, provide the best way we can thrive, out of that realization comes the ordering of our values and our love for ourselves and others. I must add that it is imperative to be in a healthy community of wise believers to help remind us of the confidence, identity, and purpose we have in Christ.