We very often talk about loving our dear ones and making them happy. In fact, for some of us, this endeavour becomes a full-time activity and a lifetime chore. However, somewhere down the line, while we become engrossed in looking and caring after others, we tend to overlook the fact that we need to love ourselves before we love others in life. The whole concept may seem like an exercise in vanity, self-obsession and narcissism but it is an accepted fact that no one is going to love us if we don’t love ourselves. Actually, in the long run, it leads to sanity rather than vanity. Remember, a million ‘likes’ on Facebook won’t matter if the first press of the ‘like’ button was not for our own selves.
One may say that ‘loving my own self’ is easier said than done. Where is the time for such philosophical pursuits? Or even if I do take out time, how do I go about doing it? Further, since I am pretty ok with the way things are, will it really make a difference? I am sure that these thoughts will ring a bell with many people, as most of us are probably guilty of this omission in our lives at some stage or the other.
Firstly, to be able to love our own selves, we need to celebrate our God-given uniqueness. No two human beings are same and this very fact should be a cause of celebration and gratitude. The very fact that we are alive, are among loved ones and are not unduly worried about our next meal, are reasons enough to be eternally thankful. We all are literally walking miracles, capable of doing so much, for so many, in so many myriad ways. So when we have so much to rejoice and thank the Lord for, why do we invite unhappiness in multiple ways lined up with anger, hate, greed, envy, jealousy and sloth?
Next to consider is the fact that while being impacted by today’s media-led sense of beauty, we very often tend to judge ourselves by the way we look or what is missing in our persona. Many of us are always sub-consciously trying to compare ourselves with photo-shopped images and figures which the media surrounds us with. Nothing could be more dangerous than that. After all, you are as beautiful as your thoughts. When you love yourself for what you are, irrespective of the way God made you, you glow from within, and your radiation touches everyone who encounters you. All this is therefore good reason for never to be apologetic about how you look, what you are and what you like.
We need to believe that there is no such thing as a perfect human being. We all have missing tiles in our rooftops. We all go through our personal hells and tribulations where we often fall short of our own expectations. Those are times where we all feel less than perfect and probably a lesser human being, not deserving of being loved. In fact, this is where you need to love yourself more than any other time. The key lies in constantly trying to become a better human being by forgiving our own selves for our mistakes and imperfect choices, making resolves and sticking to them so that we never let ourselves down in the future. While we choose to forgive our own selves, we must extend the same courtesy to others by forgiving them when the occasion so demands. The whole exercise is indeed therapeutic since loving others and loving your own self goes hand in hand.
At the same time, there is a constant requirement to undertake self-reflection at regular intervals to help us identify our true purpose in life. Life is after all, much more than shopping, gossip and three meals a day. This kind of effort zooms us away from the daily mundane activities which engage us almost non-stop and gives a direction to our life sails. Once we have identified our ultimate purpose or goal, we must make repeated choices to make it happen. The net result is discovery of our self-worth which is the basic ingredient towards loving our own selves. After all, we must all lead life as if it really matters.
To be able to lead our life in such a blissful fashion, we must always find something to do which we love doing and try to do it often. But whatever we choose to do must not be hurtful, illegal or unethical. People who have such a clear conscience are bound to be loving and shorn of worry. By some stroke of magic, they are also able to attract people who also treat others with love, kindness and respect. Another quality which people who love themselves demonstrate is that they are always focussing on their own and other people’s positives, strengths and successes. They don’t seem to unnecessarily dwell on negativity. Optimism is a hallmark of such people which is somehow very infectious. Every threat is an opportunity for them and every loss a learning experience. People in love with themselves are just great at bouncing back from adversity. You just can’t keep them down for long.
While such people treat others with oodles of love and respect, they expect the same from others. Because of their self-worth, they don’t let others steamroll over them or take them for granted. Undoubtedly, how you treat yourself dictates how others are likely to treat you. As they say, no one can insult you without your consent and such people love themselves so much that they never give this kind of consent to others. They can be assertive when required to be and don’t mind saying ‘No’ when they need to. But somehow, they always manage not to be disagreeable when they have to disagree with someone. Their actions are not driven by a yearning for popularity or a desire to please everyone but by their own values, beliefs and convictions. At the end of the day, people respect them for such consistent and balanced conduct. They have no hesitation in accepting the fact that there will always be some people who do not like them. However, when they become aware of certain habits or behavioural aspects of theirs that are undesirable, they work at removing those flaws. Self-awareness, self-growth and self-correction are after all precursors to self-love.
So, how do we go about generating self-love? I guess it starts with taking care of your health, mind and spirit. Become your own dearest friend and try to discover your own self. Don’t be afraid of your insecurities and failings. We all have them; maybe most of us just deny having them. Think of loving yourself like the way we love a child in an unconditional way. You owe yourself the love you so generously give to others. If you discover something that is preventing you from doing so, you must eliminate past guilt and regrets and transform yourself to become the person you know you are at the bottom of your heart. You must re-ignite the spark of childhood and youth and live by your own standards rather than those set by society. Let go and dance to the music of your soul. Every day, find an opportunity to help someone and ‘give’ without expectations and you will find that love and kindness have permeated through your entire being.
One of the best ways to love ourselves, is to simply be ourselves. You don’t need external stimulus to become special. You are already complete and God’s most special creation. The universe is alive because you feel alive. Listen to your heart and the world around will mirror your loving ways. Don’t wait for tomorrow to find yourself. Love yourself from this very moment and every moment for the rest of your life. You deserve it.
First published at seekmediation.com on 24/05/21