First off, this isn’t an article that you need to read privately.
The type of loving that I’m talking about is appreciating and looking after yourself. It’s perhaps different from your first thoughts but more fun and fulfilling.
So what does self-love truly mean? Do you love yourself? And, the big question, is it selfish?
Let’s start by looking at how your self-appreciation is going. Consider a few scenarios.
1 Let’s say that you go out for dinner with your partner. You notice their special and truly want to order it. But your partner suggests something else for you instead and insists you try that. Would you order your preference or your partner’s?
2 You’re heading for a really important meeting. On your way in the car, you realize that you’ve forgotten to take along some important papers. What thoughts run in your head?
3 You see a poster that a local music band is looking to add a drum player to their team. You’ve always wanted to join a music band, and you love playing drums, so you decide you’ll audition. You get home and excitedly share your plans but nobody seems keen. You’re reminded of your other failed attempts. Would you still audition?
How did you go on those questions? Did you choose what you wanted, or did you give in to expectations of others around you? How did your choice make you feel?
What is self-love anyway?
I’m hoping the questions above led you to some introspection and made you rethink your thoughts and attitude toward yourself.
Here’s my definition of self-love:
Self- love is appreciating yourself for who you are and taking actions to support what you truly want to be.
What do you think? How does that make you feel?
Let’s look at some of the main characteristics of loving ourselves before we delve into the bigger question of whether it is selfish or not.
1. Self-love means doing what you truly want.
You decide that you are worthy of ‘good stuff’ and go for it.
In the real basic sense, self-love is treating yourself as a worthy person. This means appreciating yourself and giving yourself opportunities to celebrate life in big and small ways
Maybe you’re saying ‘NO’ a lot to yourself without even realizing it.
At the supermarket, are you always buying the cheapest item? Maybe it is time to occasionally treat yourself to pricier food items because you know, you’re worth it.
In the dinner example above, if you ordered the special menu item that tickles your fancy, wouldn’t you relish that more?
So here’s to treating yourself as a well-deserving worthy person for all bounties in life.
I think Marianne Williamson says this best:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
~ Marianne Williamson
2. You treat yourself as your own best friend.
You love yourself and support your desires.
So now that you’re hopefully in a state where you feel deserving, the next step is to change your internal dialogues.
Imagine that your best friend, the one who’s with you at all times, is always scolding you and being extremely critical. She is constantly saying that you’re an idiot because you are running late, or that you’re a moron to have not done that simple thing, etc. Would you continue being this person’s friend?
And yet, what dialogue do you have with yourself?
Let’s go back to the second question. You’re on your way to an important meeting and realize that you’ve forgotten some important papers. This is absolutely frustrating, but maybe you could soothe yourself instead.
Our mind and subconscious are constantly responding to the message we are sending. So let our internal dialogue be more encouraging and kind.
Being self-critical won’t do you any good. Being self-caring will.
Therefore, extend the same care and support to yourself as you would to your best friend or loved one.
3. Even if others around you are not supportive, you follow your heart anyway.
You stop needing approval.
If you’re thinking of yourself as worthy and treating yourself that way, you will start reaching a point where you will choose to follow your heart, even when your well-meaning loved ones and dear friends and neighbors and perhaps the whole world is telling you not to.
Because well, your life should be about doing what you want, isn’t it? Otherwise, you are not living your life, you’re sleep-walking through it.
Now I know approval feels wonderful. I write this blog and it feels great when I receive positive comments. But sometimes people disagree too. And that’s ok. I have an opinion and they can have theirs.
There is a difference between ‘wanting’ and ‘needing’. I ‘want’ approval, that feels good. But I don’t ‘need’ it, because that is a crippling desire as if I can’t go ahead because somebody disapproved. Why give my power to someone else?
In the third question above about auditioning. I hope you choose to audition. Doing what you want is the only way of truly living your life.
So, is self-love selfish?
I imagine a lot of you are saying yes and I agree with you. When you are taking your life in your own hands, not letting others have their way, it can be seen as very VERY selfish.
But suddenly. you are also not blaming or relying on anyone for how your life should be. You become more responsible for yourself, for what you strive for, for where you spend your time and energy.
The more you focus on your desires, the less you focus on the trivial stuff, like what annoyed you, etc. Your desires intensify and you build momentum towards bringing your dreams in fruition.
Some of your dreams will start manifesting and others will be on their way. You might still have your struggles, but you’ll be a much stronger and fun person to be around, enjoying life each moment.
As much you will refuse to bend your ways for others, you will also be more peaceful, more resilient. Slowly with time, more and more people will start seeing you as steadfast on your goals.
When I imagine a person who’s best at self-love, I think of someone who has tremendous self-belief such that the doubts of others don’t bother him, who is giving his best shot to what his heart desires and enjoying all the ups and downs that come with it.
You will always have some people in your life eager to find faults in you, regardless of what you’re doing. Perhaps it is their way of living their life and now you know, that it’s ok. To each, their own.
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So what do you think?
Do you practice self-love? Do you think prioritizing yourself is good?