I Can Heal with Dr. Wendy Treynor


      Where Science & Spirit Meet

 Where Science & Spirit Meet

                                  CA:LL 310-YES-LOVE


What is Self-Love?

Dear Friends,


Please enjoy “Self-Love,” excerpted and  adapted from my previously published book:
  Towards a General Theory of Social Psychology.







Stripped of Religion

Wendy Treynor, Ph.D.

“The social world has relative standards, is generally conditionally accepting, and temporarily confers identities upon us.  The non-social world has no standards, is unconditionally accepting, and confers no identities upon us.  To ground an understanding of ourselves on the relative is not a true understanding.  To ground an understanding of ourselves on the non-relative is a true understanding.  We acquire identities from the group (the social), but in truth, we have no identities. We acquire conditional acceptance from the group (the social), which we internalize, coming to view ourselves as lacking, but in truth, we are acceptable as we are.  Cultivating an awareness of and feeling this unconditional love or acceptance for ourselves is what I call self-love.


Our everyday group is defined as “the social context in which we generally find ourselves,” and our reference group as “the group whose standards we use as our own.”  The identity shift effect describes the hypothetical three-step process by which our everyday group becomes our reference group, or stated differently, by which we come to adopt a group’s standards as our own.  What does this have to do with love?  The group tends to be conditionally loving:  As a general rule, the group rejects us if we don’t conform to it, and when we do, we betray ourselves.  From my research as a social psychologist (weaving together others’ research), I discovered that the social world is conditionally loving and our identities are a product of group membership.  What if we aren’t a member of any group?  Then we have no identity!  Moreover, if the social world exists, then so does the non-social world without people (nature/the self).  What if you make the non-social your everyday group?  Then, through long-term contact with it, it presumably will become your reference group.  With the non-social as your reference group, you experience unconditional self-acceptance or self-love; because the non-social has no standards, you always accept yourself as you are.  It also means you have no identity.   If this sounds a lot like spiritual wisdom, know that the spiritual journey is a journey towards self-acceptance or self-love.  (I know in my heart it is true, because I’ve lived it!)


I believe that in the social world, the identity shift effect functions in the following way: Step 1: to reduce external conflict (social rejection) we conform to the group, suppressing our true nature.  Step 2: But now we experience internal conflict (self-rejection): in attempting to eliminate external conflict (social rejection), we have betrayed ourselves by conforming to the group.  Step 3: We undergo an identity shift and adopt the group’s standards as our own to eliminate the internal conflict (self-rejection) we feel. Now we achieve harmony with the group, but at the cost of losing ourselves.


Presumably (although it remains to be tested), the transition to self-acceptance (self-love) is pure and direct—not motivated by the internal or external conflicts just described.  Rather than adopting a new framework to replace the old, this identity shift to self-acceptance entails a stripping, a releasing, a relinquishment, a “letting go” of worn, outdated, confining, burdensome identities and ideas, or beliefs, about self, and others, and about what is good, right, and true— instead, revealing an unbounded understanding of self and others, of the “perfection” (inherent value, worth, lovableness) of the self, and all people—who are merely confined by their social circumstances and borrowed identities (a product thereof): One comes to see that one’s identity is merely borrowed from “the group,” from culture, from what other people say one “is”—that in truth, one’s identity has merely been worn as one wears clothing—a garment long mistaken for one’s skin underneath, for what is real, for what is true.

In transitioning to self-acceptance, one comes to witness the truth of unconditional being, unconditional acceptance, “is”-ness:  One comes to witness the basic state (analogous to the mathematician’s Time 0 or the physicist’s “frictionless space”— that which came before, that which is not relative, but to which all else is relative).   In witnessing the basic state, one comes to understand that it has merely been filled with the friction of culture, and conditional acceptance, hence conflict.  One realizes that the conflict and conditional love we experience in our lives reflect not the truth of our inherent value, but instead, masks it, being merely a byproduct of the group and the socialization process—an immersive process which entails a shift from conditional to unconditional acceptance—hence, a shift in self-perception from being lacking to whole.

The human quest for wholeness is simply the human desire to recapture, reclaim, re-experience, the basic state.  This need manifests itself as the human “need for love” (need for acceptance).  What is required to attain it (to reclaim the basic state—hence wholeness), however, is self-love (self-acceptance).  Once we attain self-love (self-acceptance), we attain wholeness.  Because the group’s love (acceptance) tends to be conditional, this human sense of wholeness is fleeting.  Not until we ground our identity and sense of self-worth on the absolute (the non-social), as opposed to the relative, can our search end: For there we find (enduring) self-love (self-acceptance), and in finding (enduring) self-love (self-acceptance), we finally complete ourselves.

  • Another name for the basic state is truth (because to realize the basic state is to realize the truth).


  • Another name for the basic state is love (because to reclaim the basic state is to reclaim love).


If you make the non-social your reference group through everyday group practice (meditation), you will be overflowing with so much love—so much unconditional love for yourself and others— that social rejection will no longer hurt.   You will find yourself withstanding social pressure and embracing your true nature, allowing you to work for the benefit of humankind, towards the unleashing of human potential and the liberation of the human spirit for all.”

With heartfelt gratitude and appreciation,
from my heart to yours,


SELF-LOVE is not narcissism. 
SELF-LOVE is loving your essence, your being, your soul--who you are, as you were created.

"We didn’t choose our family, our bodies, our talents, our preferences, our ways of being. They were all given to us, without our having any say in the matter.  This is true not just for you, but for all of us. It’s like we all arrived here for this game, this purpose, and none of us have any idea what it is. We’re all on a treasure hunt without a treasure map.  We’re all in the same boat, on this magic ship, leading to nowhere, unless we create our own meaning, and sail it with our imaginations to our desired destination.

We did not create ourselves; thus, we have no grounds for shame or self-doubt about being the way we are.  This realization has freed me to shed my shame and self-doubt about my way of being.  I don’t see why it couldn’t do the same for you."

                                                   - Wendy

Excerpted and adapted from The Gift of Cancer: Turn Your Tragedy into a Treasure in the upcoming I Can Heal book series.  If you would like an email announcement to be sent to you when it comes out click here.

Have a Lovely Day!