Do you love yourself?
This is not a trick question. How do you feel about yourself?
Modern society tends to look askance at self-love. Why? Because our society frequently deals in extremes, and on this scale the extremes are selfishness and selflessness.
A great deal of our fear-based society focuses on greedy, intolerant, ignorant, selfish people. Government, religious and business leaders frequently show us exactly that. Selfishness in the extreme, to the detriment of everyone else.
Because that’s such a huge part of our societal conversation, it is necessary to counter the selfishness with selflessness. Giving, helping, reaching out in whatever way we can to improve the lives of those less fortunate than us. We work tirelessly to assist the less-fortunate.
The thing is, the vast majority of us do not live on the extreme ends of any given spectrum. We are all, for the most part, centrists of one ilk or another. Very few people are any given extreme, because that simply is not human nature.
The thing is, in order to be more selfless, we need to care for the self. This is why it’s important to ask whether or not you love yourself. If you do not take care of your own emotional, spiritual and of course physical needs, how can you expect to give to anyone else?
To love yourself is not selfish.
Plain as that, self-love is not selfish. The problem, though, is that in a society focused on extremes, self-love frequently gets miscast as selfishness, narcissism, egomania and other negative connotations.
Loving yourself is not selfish. To love yourself is not an inflation of the ego, or bragging about things you are doing, it is about caring for who you are. It is about respecting the things that make you a good person. Self-love is acknowledging your abilities, skills, talents, and the good you can do.
I have struggled with this for a large portion of my life. For many years I barely liked myself, let along loved myself. I saw a fat, uncertain, frequently indecisive man who couldn’t hold down a job or a relationship for squat. Didn’t like who I was, and I did not like my life all that much.
Pathwalking began as an attempt to follow-through with something. A decision was made to blog weekly. It is nearly six years now I have been writing this, and along the way I began to like myself. I saw what I was capable of, and I saw what I could do. Then I strove to find ways to love myself, to see what makes me an incredible person who can share this incredible journey with you.
There are days this is easy, and there are days I still struggle. Last job I worked turned out to be increasingly unsatisfying in multiple ways, and then it was gone. Still struggling to get my weight down to a healthier level. I am working on keeping a schedule for writing, editing and exercise to create the path I want to walk in this life. Some days it works better than others, and remains a work in progress.
Love yourself and you give yourself fuel.
To drive your car from point “a” to point “b”, you have to put gas in the tank. If you don’t have enough gas, you will stall out and get stuck somewhere, quite possibly in the middle of nowhere. Self-love is the fuel in your gas tank. This is equal parts spiritual, emotional and physical. If you have insufficient self love, you will get stuck somewhere.
Love is the ultimate generator of positivity, of good, of growth and energy and happiness. When you do not love yourself, you have little fuel to do much of anything. If you want to do more than just let life happen around you, if you want to take control and make changes and grow, you have to love yourself.
How do you learn to love yourself? I am still working on this regularly, but this is what I have come up with thus far. First, you have to accept that to love yourself is different from narcissism, selfishness and other negatives. To love yourself is healthy.
Second, you have to find the things that are good about you. A friend inspired my writing of this with a Facebook post asking us to name one thing we love about ourselves. We all have something that we can love about ourselves. There is some talent, some ability, some thing that we can do which we love about ourselves.
Third, you have to express your love for yourself. Take an action that will make you feel good. Eat the cake, get the massage, watch the movie, have sex, read the book, tell the joke, do something that makes you feel that love for yourself, and use that energy to fill the tank.
To like yourself is to love yourself.
Starting with things you like about yourself can lead you to find love for yourself. What is it about you that you like? What makes you feel good? Are there particular talents and skills of that you like having? Do you choose to share with others something you like about yourself?
It is not a huge leap to get from liking yourself to loving yourself. One of the biggest hurdles, though, is recognizing the difference between self-love and selfishness. Love for yourself is not narcissism. When you love yourself, you develop a huge resource of tools and options to not only live the best life you can, but to give the most you can to others.
I know we live in interesting times. We need to be kinder and nicer and better to others. However, in order to do that, we need to be kinder and nicer and better to ourselves. When you do not love yourself, you haven’t got enough fuel to give to others. Recognizing this can lead us all to improve the world around us.
What do you love about yourself?
This is the two-hundred ninety-seventh entry in my series. These weekly posts are ideas for and my personal experiences with walking along the path of life. I share this journey as part of my desire to make a difference in this world along the way.
Thank you for joining me. Feel free to re-blog and share.
The first year of Pathwalking, including some expanded ideas, is available here.
If you enjoy Pathwalking, you may also want to read my Five Easy Steps to Change the World for the Better.