They say, the most difficult thing to do is to love one’s self. In my experience, this is true.
What does self-love mean, and why is it so difficult?
Self-love is to be honest with one’s self first and foremost. Even if you choose not to be honest with others at any given moment.
To appreciate and accept yourself as you are: to give yourself permission to be exactly what you really want to be.
To care for yourself enough to live your life according to your own will and not to the demands and expectations of others.
To validate and approve of yourself, your choices, your desires, your unique self-expression, no matter what the rest of the world thinks.
To love yourself enough to trust yourself.
To accept your ‘wayward’ emotions without judgment.
I don’t know if you agree about the difficulty of loving one’s self. I have explored and struggled with this thing called self-love for some time, and it felt like I was challenging the whole world with its agreed upon belief system which demands that we must put others first before ourselves, so that we don’t appear selfish by catering first to our needs before the needs of others. The result of this hypocritical belief is that while we may appear generous, kind and strong on the outside, we may actually be suffering, tormented and fragile inside because we are too scared to show our true feelings, to express our true desires, and live authentic lives.
If we love ourselves enough to give ourselves the permission to be who we are, it will be easier for us to permit others to be who they are. As we accept our idiosyncrasies, our mistakes, our nonstandard or non-mainstream desires, we will find ourselves more understanding and permissive of others’ mistakes and idiosyncrasies. If we love ourselves enough not to beat ourselves up to conform to some established standard of normality or morals, we would not also be as critical and judgmental of others who we think are not measuring up to such social standards.
It is true that, at the core, the way we treat ourselves (consciously and, mostly, unconsciously) is the way we treat others. It is when we are cruel and exacting of ourselves (even if we don’t know or admit it) that we also become cruel and exacting of others.
So when we fully love ourselves for who we are, we set ourselves free. We let ourselves off the hook. And simultaneously, we set others free. For it is in understanding and acknowledging our own complexities, our strengths and weaknesses, our fears and insecurities that we truly come to develop genuine understanding and sympathy for others.
Great Post Allu. I was brought up in a culture where one only expressed oneself with some caution, and self affirmations were in direct conflict with modesty (a desired trait). While I do not entirely disagree with emphasis on modesty, I do see it as an issue if it prevents us from expressing honestly who we are.
I completely believe that self-love is a very difficult concept for many people. In fact I have known so many people who love their friends more than they do themselves. It seems so common to see people going out of their way to buy a friend a really nice gift, and yet they buy themselves something less than inspirational. My favorite quote in this context is “If you treated your friends like you treat yourself, would you have any?”
I have found it very common for people to go through a massive house cleaning/tidy up project because visitors were expected. I have to ask myself “Why is it important for their visitors to spend time in a nice clean and organized home, but it is not necessary for the people who live there permanently. Low self esteem / self worth?
Self love, and all that entails, is clearly an alien concept for so many people.
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Thank you Colin!
I can totally relate with your experience and observations. I think it is common in most, if not all, cultures – that we express ourselves with caution in order not to come across as immodest. And we are encouraged and even expected to sacrifice ourselves to please others; to make others comfortable at the expense of our own comfort. I don’t know, maybe it’s the effect of religion? Or fear? Religion has done much to instill guilt and fear of punishment on people who don’t follow the “rules”; thereby also encouraging low self-worth on people.
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