Love Yourself First

There is a verse in the Scripture that is probably familiar to a lot of us. In the second commandment, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves.

When you take a moment to consider all that is going on today, this can be complex. Your perception concerning this topic may vary, but it is obvious that this is not an easy task. While most people know deep down what they need to do, they just don’t act on it. Even more find themselves unable to commit to such an absurd command. In this day and age, you got to watch your own back, no?

Where Does It Start

It came as a surprise to me that the difficult part is not about loving my neighbor but the love I have for myself. The way I see it, if I am unsuccessful in loving myself, which is the criteria here, how then can I love my neighbor? Let’s deal with the core issue.

You might argue that a person can't doubt that they love themselves. Of course they do. There is so much talk about self-love that it creates more confusion than clarity.

Self-love is a popular term that gets tossed around every which way these days. It is all over the place. You would not have missed it. Social media captions appearing alongside beautiful glossy images. There is a seemingly endless list of luxury products and services trends all aimed to lull you into falling in love with yourself.

The concept is not new but the understanding might be flawed. Unfortunately, the popular bent interprets this claim as an excuse for indulgence and lack of responsibility.

You must try to generate happiness within yourself. If you aren't happy in one place, chances are you won't be happy any place.

– Ernie Banks

Self-Love or Self-Care

Sure, self-care is important and there is a difference. But what happens after having invested all the attention and care and yet never felt like you have truly achieved? You will soon realize that all those external things were never able to fill the void within.

I have heard people rave about self-love and most of the time it involve pampering of the senses. You may have caught yourself claiming that because you love yourself, therefore, you are entitled to indulge. I’m not talking about the act itself but the motivation behind the action. The pursuit of happiness and freedom justifies the shifts in social norms toward acceptance of unhealthy habits. We do things mainly because it feels good but not considering for a moment if it is beneficial.

As most of us would have assumed, self-love is not simply a state of feeling good. It is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support the physical, mental, and psychological sense. It is often considered as one of the purest forms of selfishness. Through self-reflection, we divert our attention from all external distractions to focus our energy inward.

Loving You First

Loving yourself comes from understanding that you are a part of something bigger. It pays when you take the time to connect with your higher self which is your source of love and truth. You direct your attention to that inner voice called intuition that speaks ever so constantly. We cannot see our soul essence as long as we operating from our ego wounded self. We are stuck from the false beliefs that have been programmed about our worth and lovability. These self-limiting beliefs originate during earlier days that shape the way we view our world.

True self-love is self-acceptance of your entire being involving the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels. Denying who you are can result in low self-esteem, depression, bitterness and resentment.

Selfishness typically exhibits characteristics of neediness and insecurity. It comes from the scarcity mindset rather than from a place of fulfillment. The selfish person focuses on satisfying their desires and needs, ignoring the highest good. A mindful person understands that indulgence is gratifying what feels good at the moment but may not be beneficial. Whether it is in the form of pleasure or pain, selfishness is a quick fix that easily leads to dysregulated behaviors.

Love yourself first and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.

– Lucille Ball

A Pamper Day

Self-love does include a healthy dose of self-restraint. By taking proactive measures, we intentionally stay away from any activities that will cause harm in any shape, way, or form. When we choose to indulge despite knowing that a choice is unhealthy and doesn’t further our goals, we are being selfish. We need to be cognizant of our strengths and weaknesses and take responsibility for our actions. It means being responsible for our feelings rather than making others accountable for how we feel.

When we look at the bigger picture, self-care then becomes more than just a pamper day. It has very little to do with treating yourself and a whole lot to do with parenting yourself for long-term wellness. More importantly, it is taking the time to do the inner-work by learning to forgive ourselves, accepting our flaws, healing past traumas and finding peace. We practice self-compassion and not judging ourselves harshly for missing the mark.

You cannot freely share your love if you feel empty inside due to abandonment issues. When you expect others to compensate for the love and attention that you are not giving yourself, you will attempt through force and control, often with anger, blame, withdrawal or compliance. Your intent to get love rather than to freely give and share will never lead to connection and intimacy.

Love Freely

Once we rest secure in the knowledge that our Self is part of a Higher Essence, we move away from selfishness. Our actions will stem from an innate knowing that what we do is for the highest good because we are following the promptings of Spirit. When we love ourselves, we are acknowledging our divine nature.

It has been proven that we tend to treat others with the same measure we treat ourselves. By accepting our vulnerability right alongside our strengths, we find it easier to be compassionate and to accept people as they are. When you truly love, you are not hoping for attention or validation. You are giving love for the pure joy of giving. True love is a free gift that has no agenda attached to it. Unconditional love is only possible when you are filled and overflowing.

Self-love involves loving the "self" in all others since we are all one and the same, spiritual beings living a human experience. The love we express to others reflects the love we have for ourselves and our world as a whole. It is an attitude of the heart that determines how we relate to everybody. If you are not kind and caring with yourself, then your kindness is likely to come across as manipulative rather than loving to others. Our greatness within, which is our inner self is that pure place of love.

Love Your Neighbor

Self-love also implies considering yourself as valuable as others. Nothing more or less. Unless you’re capable of truly loving yourself first, flaws and all, you can never authentically love another. Relationships with others are an extension of who we are because it’s impossible to give out the love that we don’t have. Our outer life is a reflection of our inner life.

Without the ability to self-love, it is unlikely that a person can ever be truly happy. It makes sense that if you’re not on very good terms with yourself, you’re not going to be happy with life in general. That void within will cause you to look for external fulfilment in the form of people or things.

Give yourself the chance to discover the greatness you hold inside by accepting and loving yourself for who you really are. When your tank is constantly filled and overflowing, you will have the capacity to genuinely love. There is no need to force things to happen because now it is flowing freely from that pure place within.

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