Ahava (ah-ha-va) / love. In Hebrew, the root word for ‘love’ is ‘hav’ which means “to give”. Loving is synonymous with giving — as real love is created. As The Beatles say, “The love you take is equal to the love you make.”
You see this most clearly in the love a parent gives to their child. As a baby, the child’s existence fully depends on the parent giving of themselves at every moment. This tireless giving creates an attachment stronger than any other kind– profound, unconditional love. So the greater the giving, the deeper the love.
In his TED Talk, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks suggested to his audience that they run a Search-and-Replace operation on the texts of their minds and substitute every instance of the word “self” with the word “other.” So instead of trying to do “self-help”, you would do “other-help”; instead looking after your “self-esteem”, you would look after “others’-esteem”. He went on to say that, “if you do that, you will begin to feel the power of one of the most moving sentences in all of religious literature: ‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.'”
If you focus on others as you would yourself, then you will love yourself more and, by virtue of that, become love for others.