Learning to love ourselves or learning to become narcissists?

I have always loved learning about history. It was one of my favourite subjects in school, if not the favourite. There is a way that the past shapes the present and future that I truly find fascinating. I cannot help but wonder when we look back to the 21st century what would that history look like; especially in the last 10 years? What would this era be called? What legacy would it have, what kind of impact will be impressed upon these years? When I look at social media, speak to my friends, family, colleagues and even strangers (yes I am that person, what goes on in people’s heads truly fascinate me) a narrative of self-love, self-awareness seems to have taken root and like bamboo, it’s shooting up very fast as time goes on. Why is there this sudden movement of self-love and self-acceptance?

Live Your Truth

I have always admired those who choose to live in their ‘truth’ and be honest about who they are and unashamedly live life accordingly. I have always gravitated towards those who seemed to be ‘carefree’ and be extra if they want to be, loud if they want to be, or quiet, calm and collected. Whatever it is, so long as the person exuded a level of confidence with whoever they were I truly appreciated it. While I think, this is great, I can’t help but ask; are we becoming a people in which that ‘truth’ has become so subjective that we cannot speak on things that we see are harmful towards the person? You probably didn’t think this post was going to take such a turn but I want to address something that I have been thinking about as I watch everyone around me recite the words “so long as you love yourself” “the important thing is that you love yourself”.

Counter-Intuitive

I honestly think it is wonderful and important to learn to like and love yourself, however like everything in life it must be done in moderation. We all know the saying that too much of anything is not good for you. You may be thinking, what is wrong with loving yourself too much? But we all know that one person we roll our eyes at, or that guy or girl we don’t want to date because ‘they love themselves too much’. Is it possible that loving yourself may be counter-intuitive? And as we focus on ‘self’ are we losing the idea of community and fellowship? Is our idea of self-love verging on narcissism?

YOU FOR YOU

I ask these questions because it might be just me but the idea of loving yourself isn’t for yourself but for the ‘the greater good of those around you’. As Jesus said, “Love thy neighbour as thyself”. The act of loving yourself is to teach you how to love others. This is the main reason why I had to write this post because most these self-help gurus and books are teaching people to love themselves for themselves. Well, what is wrong with that you may ask? Consider this, what is the point of loving yourself if you cannot translate that onto others?

Instruction and Criticism

Another reason why loving yourself may be counter-intuitive is how, when it is not done right, we do not heed instruction and criticism. Everyone wants to cut people off because they do not agree with the lifestyle choices that they are making. A friend that truly cares for you will let you know about yourself, especially when you are sowing seeds which reap harmful fruits and stump your growth. Of course, not everyone around you is meant to stick with you, and yes keeping some people around you is not conducive for your growth, but that is not everyone! Not only is that a lack of wisdom but how self-centered is it to consider only what you may gain from the person. There are certain people in your life YOU are meant to sow into, and they will have nothing, absolutely nothing to bring to the table. Don’t miss your chance to impact on someone else’s life because you’re too focused on what you can gain.

True Self Love

I say all of this to say that, true self-love comes with empathy and compassion and is complemented by those that are around you. So, while I commend you for taking the time to get to know you, like you, love you; know that you will continue to grow, you are not a fixed being. Perspective and realism need to be applied to the act of self-love and awareness. Lastly, let us not forget the importance of community, be it small or big. It does take a village to raise a child. So, don’t go through life thinking you must go it alone. Going back to the beginning of this post, let us not create a history where we got to know and love ourselves and we forgot about those around and lost what love is and was meant to be.

– Jane T

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