Volume 6, Article 10

Self-love is to break boundaries: Young adults’ views of self-love in Johannesburg – A thematic analysis study
Maushmi Patel and Dr Alastair Pipkin

Citation: Patel, M. & Pipkin, A. (2022). Self-love is to break boundaries: Young adults’ views of self-love in Johannesburg – A thematic analysis study. European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 6, 10, 1-11. https://www.nationalwellbeingservice.org/volumes/volume-6-2022/volume-6-article-10/

Processing dates: Submitted 10 October 2021; Resubmitted 23 January 2022; Accepted 8 February 2022; Published 16 September 2022

Volume 6, Article 10


Objectives: Self-love has been conceptualized and studied in both the broader constructs of narcissism, as a negative trait referring to excessive self-focus, and self-compassion, as a positive trait pertaining to self-affirmations. Little is known about the lived experience of and attitudes towards self-love in young adults, for whom self-compassion is a known resilience factor against psychological difficulties. The present study aimed to explore young adults’ attitudes towards self-love.

Methods: Eight participants (4 males and 4 females; age range 19-35; 3 Black, 2 White, 3 Indian) were recruited through convenience sampling methods on Facebook and interviewed via Zoom using a semi-structured interview schedule. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data.

Results: Three overarching themes were found: Self-love is insight; External and internal factors of self-love; Self-love links to resilience. The data suggested that young adults view self-love from a positive perspective, stating that it leads to increased resilience towards developing strong negative reactions from traumatic experiences, which thus aided in the prevention of depression or anxiety. Cultural norms and beliefs were barriers to self-love, such as how able one feels to express emotions, or by influencing how one feels about aspects of their identity.

Discussion: The findings suggest that young adults may view self-love as an important aspect of resilience through cognitive, affective and social processes. Internalized cultural norms may influence the development of self-love in individuals.

Conclusions: Cultural factors and internalized norms warrant further investigation, such as how they may positively or negatively influence self-love and coping strategies.

Keywords: Self-love; Self-compassion; Resilience; Self-stigma; Positive Psychology

Maushmi Patel is with Arden University, Arden House, Middlemarch Park, Coventry, CV3 4FJ, UK

Alastair Pipkin is a Senior Clinical Psychologist at Berrywood Hospital, Duston, Northamptonshire, NN5 6UD, UK