I hear a lot about needing love for oneself before giving to others. It is true that if we are emotionally exhausted or overtaxed that it is all the more difficult to give to others with sincerity and love.
But I find that the most frequent block between us and loving others isn't lack of self love, but a lack of reaching out to others. Compassion is a muscle, and the less we use it, the less we understand it. We can build this muscle up, strengthen it and build it. But if we don't exercise it, force ourselves to build it up, then it will never come naturally. For many of us, our minds naturally gravitate toward judgment and feeling put upon. To remain in that place is simple laziness or ignorance.
Here are some compassion exercises we can do to strengthen our mind to be closer to Jesus':
-Every time a judging thought about another enters our heads, let's think of the suffering they endure, and how they can be healed.
-Whenever we feel put upon by another, let's consider how God might use that circumstance to build us up in love.
-If there is a person we feel disgusted by, let's think about their lives and how they might have ended up in that circumstance.
-For every person we want to punish, let's consider how love might change their lives.
-When we watch movies, rate it's compassion. See if the drama would be greatly decreased if love were more involved (which would make a poor movie, perhaps, but an easier real life situation)
-Give generously. Start with once a week, then increase it to daily until you find that it is a regular practice.
-Think about what you have that you don't need. Then think about who could use it. Then give it to them.
-Be generous with your emotions. Laugh with people, thank people, compliment people. Practice with strangers, like store clerks, and then move on to people who ask you for money on the street.