Is love just another form of want

You speak professionally with people who are mentally ill and specialize in addictions. Is there a pattern?

First, I would like to point out that anorexia also includes the word "addiction". Eating disorders and addiction disorders are treated in different, each specialized centers. I specialize in alcohol and drug disorders. Addiction always means that I try to get something from the outside that I lack inside. We develop addiction in order to get rid of stress, not to feel grief, or to bring about a happier state. Regardless of whether someone has an addiction, anxiety disorder or depression, I discover a lack of self-love in almost all patients. This topic also takes up a lot of space with the young woman.

What do you mean by self-love?

Self-love means building a benevolent relationship with yourself. Many people hardly feel themselves. They are highly adaptable, know immediately what the other person wants, but react helplessly when asked about their needs. From the outside they are perceived as the "loved ones" who are always ready to help and take care of others. Self-love means looking at yourself and asking yourself what do you need now, what concerns you, what moves you - and finally the question: What can I do for myself?

But doesn't that make us egoists?

Self-love in seven steps

Tips from Bodo Unkelbach

1. First of all, it is important to take the time and rest to listen to our inner sensitivities.

2. We consciously perceive everything that arises in us and do not evaluate it.

3. We treat these thoughts and feelings with respect, that is, we acknowledge that they are there.

4. We continue to try not to judge and unconditionally accept everything that we find in us as part of us.

5. When we become familiar with ourselves, we recognize our worth as humans. We develop self-worth.

6. Now that we know better and better about our strong and weak sides, we can trust each other. We see our opportunities as well as our pitfalls. Our self-confidence helps us plan concrete changes.

7. We can rely on ourselves, can appear confident. Self-confidence gives us the strength to change. If we have the courage to change our behavior, we go back to step 1 and go through the cycle again.

In the case of self-confident people, this cycle runs automatically without them being aware of it. When insecure people practice this cycle, the exercise becomes easier and easier over time and becomes a matter of course.

Egoists live at the expense of others. They act out of the feeling that they never have enough and are only concerned with themselves. The egoist builds a world in which everyone else has to be there for him and who also demands it. However, he does not give anything back and sucks his fellow human beings. The self-loving person, on the other hand, is aware that he does not exist apart from his environment. He looks after his neighbors - and himself. He knows that he will not be happy if his neighbors are unhappy.

So one could also speak of selfishness in the case of egoism?

Exactly. Some welfare recipients manage to be satisfied with what they have. Some high earners are constantly accompanied by the feeling that they do not have enough. Many successful careers are built on this feeling, an insatiable hunger demands more and more. At some point your strength will run out and burn-out will ensue.

How can help look like in such cases?

The therapeutic approach is to differentiate whether what I'm chasing is what I really crave. After a while, I talk to many top earners about the question of what the relationship with the wife actually looks like. Then we come to points that drive us deep inside: What does a trusting relationship look like? How can we develop a common space for security again? How can we manage to enjoy our time together? The human being is a being that is geared towards functioning, resilient and trusting, i.e. loving, relationships. Self-love brings us to the point of refocusing on our deeper needs, thereby fueling the desire to deepen our relationships. Money and power are often only substitutes for this.