“Is loving yourself selfish?” It’s a question that’s been asked at dinner tables, in therapy sessions, and probably during late-night chats with friends.
In her study, Dr Kristin D. Neff found that self compassion improves resilience and the ability to thrive in hardships.
What Does Loving Yourself Mean? Hint: It’s Not All About Bubble Baths
Self-love isn’t just about pampering yourself with bubble baths and chocolates (though that’s nice too!).
It’s about accepting yourself, knowing your worth, and taking care of your needs. It’s like being your own best friend.
Are You Good at Loving Yourself? Let’s take a short quiz
Let’s start by looking at how your self-appreciation is going. Consider a few scenarios.
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?
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?
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 the expectations of others around you? How did your choice make you feel?
The Myth of Selfishness: Breaking Stereotypes
Some people think that loving yourself means ignoring others. But that’s like saying eating healthy means never having a cookie. Balance is key!
Loving yourself empowers you to love others more genuinely. It’s not selfish; it’s self-awareness.
What is self-love anyway?
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.
1. Loving yourself 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:
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
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 your 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.
The Ripple Effect: How Self-Love Benefits Others
Imagine throwing a pebble into a pond. The ripples spread out, right?
Self-love works the same way. When you love and respect yourself, it radiates out to those around you. It’s like giving a high-five to the world!
The Art of Saying No
Setting boundaries isn’t about shutting people out; it’s about respecting your space and energy. It’s like putting a fence around your garden; it doesn’t mean people can’t visit, but they need to respect the gate. Boundaries are a sign of self-respect, not selfishness.
Empathy and Compassion
Being compassionate to yourself allows you to extend that compassion to others. It’s like filling your cup first so you can share with others without running dry. As Dalai Lama said, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
Loving Yourself and Others
Life’s a balancing act, and so is love. Loving yourself doesn’t mean neglecting others. It’s about harmony, understanding, and mutual respect. It’s like a beautiful dance where everyone has a chance to shine.
So, is loving yourself selfish?
The answer is a resounding no! It’s a celebration of who you are, a recognition of your worth, and a path to better relationships with others. It’s like planting a tree; it not only gives you shade but benefits everyone around.
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.
A mountain stands where it stands in all its glory through rain, hail, snow or sunshine. But surely, we don’t think of a mountain as selfish.
Bonus: Affirmations for Loving Yourself
- “I love myself, and that love enriches everyone I meet.”
- “My self-love is a strength, not a weakness.”
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So go forth and love yourself like never before! It’s not selfish; it’s a superpower. And remember, the world needs your unique sparkle, so keep shining!