Love is a tiny little word that has about as many interpretations as there are stars in the sky. Most often, it's confused with lust, ego attachment, or infatuation. Love has many definite characteristics. Meaning, without those characteristics, it's not really love.
Love is secure. Love is inclusive, kind, encouraging, honest, and is based on appreciation and trust over time. It's respectful and uses power to build up, not to tear down. It is a moment to moment strength of a bond between people that cannot be fully explained, but those who have experienced it, know it for life.
Most often, the first true love people feel is between themselves and their parents. The way their parents treat them and each other is the basis for our definitions of love. As adults, we show love by taking the role of one of our parents, or by acting similarly to how we did when we were children. This may not be the healthiest plan, as often our parents were not effectively able to act out of love to us or to each other.
Love can be hindered by insecurities, low self esteem, past pain that's not yet been forgiven, and many other factors. If one cannot say that they love themselves, then it's unfortunately true that they won't be able to love another person and show words and actions of true love to them.
We all have an immense capacity to love ourselves and others. True love is the most incredible gift to ourselves and others, yet most of the masses are not engaging in it much if at all. The biggest reason for this is the fear of getting hurt. But like trust, if you choose to just not love or trust anyone your whole life, then instead of being protected the entire time, you'll actually be hurting the entire time, and hurting others in the process.
Starting with you, learn to accept yourself 100%. Focus on your positive qualities, your physical features, your wit, your problem solving skills, you willingness to help others...think of the last 10 compliments you've been paid. Believe them. People mean them....rarely do folks just throw around random compliments.
Once you've got that down, you're ready for: