KNOWING YOU NEED TO LOVE YOURSELF AND ACTUALLY DOING IT
It takes conscious effort and time for most people, to examine the core archetypal wounds: Mother Wound, Father Wound, Abandonment and Rejection Wound, and to understand how your inner child is acting out those wounds in EVERY context of your life.
When we enter into relationships of any kind (marriage, friendship, therapist/patient, student/teacher) if you have not yet cleared your core wounding, you are merely playing roles in your life. When coming from wound consciousness, we are all utterly incapable of actually forming relationships that are pure. The other person is always going to serve a purpose to your wound, be a piece your ego needs (and vice versa) until you heal the ego, dissolve it fully, heal the core wounds, and become who you really are.
So in the journey to loving yourself, you uncover the roles that the people you are in relationship are playing. For example, if you have Abandonment and Rejection wound, you will have a tendency throughout your life to keep attracting people who reject you, because that is what you are projecting. It is the inner child, waiting for "mom" (but in the form of others) to give you what she did not.
The rejections get harder and harder, the lessons get harder and harder...until you understand that there is only one person who is able to rescue your inner child, and that person is you. Once the time has passed in childhood, once you are no longer a child with the opportunity to have parents who love you unconditionally and meet all your needs, that relationship no longer exists. As adults, the parent is no longer able to go back in time and give you what they did not, EVEN IF THEY ARE CAPABLE of loving you unconditionally today - which, most are not.
"I can't just love myself" is something I have heard from a number of people. People really feel that they can't. But the reason why is because they don't want to, deep down. It sounds crazy, but it is true. Deep down they WANT it to come from mommy and daddy. They want to still be children. As hard as that is to accept, it is true. Spiritual growth, or to be a spiritual adult, means, understanding that the job of loving yourself is one that only you can do. You ARE the rescuer of your self-worth, self-esteem, and self love. And as long as you continue to project that unrealistic expectation onto others (often subconsciously), whether it is a spouse, a teacher, a friend, or a lover, you will continually feel the sting and pain of rejection, abandonment, and perceived betrayal. These predictable experiences serve to confirm the pain story even further, and allow the pain story to continue to sabotage your happiest life.