Since a Merlin falcon appeared in our neighborhood, my SO has been reading about raptors and falconry. One interesting piece of information is trained falcons require trust, not love or caresses. If they trust the falconer all will go well.
As mammals, maybe we humans place too much emphasis on neotenic bonding through coddling, both with our own species and with others. I love cats and dogs (and horses) as much as anybody, but all of us need rock-bottom foundations of trust.
Buddhism practiced with no thought of a loving God or higher beings can be immensely rewarding because it puts responsibility for our lives completely on us, including what we think is best and how we assess it.
It’s not easy to trust yourself. On analysis, it seems more important to trust yourself than love yourself. Loving yourself makes little sense in Buddhism while trusting yourself makes a lot of sense as the word “self” and the actions being done to it have very different connotations.
Am I wise enough to trust my judgement? Do I trust myself to correctly cultivate my mind, do the right thing? These are much clearer questions than do I love myself, and more beneficial as well.