We are taught many things throughout this thing we call LIFE. But one we may never be taught is how to love ourselves. This may be the most important lesson we need to learn but often miss.
There is some confusion between love for one’s self versus conceit. Arrogance is built on the foundation of feeling superior to others. Caring for one’s self is not about measuring yourself against people’s lives, achievements, or financial success. It has nothing to do with other people. It has everything to do with you placing a value on you.
Insecurity, fear, and even anger can erupt when a person feels lesser. Declarations of superiority and boastful behavior can be signs of people that simply do not care for themselves. Self-hate can be masked by displays of arrogance, exaggerated pride, and finding fault in everyone. A person who has value does not need to find it by making others feel bad.
Self-love Starts with You!
Self-love is about placing a value on you. It is about finding identity based on the foundation, meaning, and purpose you have in the world. Your achievements can certainly help define you and provide value. But, only self-love can give you strength and hope when things are faltering. Self-love is knowing you have meaning simply by being.
Sometimes we place value based on relationships. We feel that we are important because someone loves us. We find identity in knowing we have a spouse, a boyfriend, or a significant other who says they love us. However, if your value is only in relationships, what happens when that loved one no longer values you?
This is where self-love provides foundation, identity, and hope. When you care for yourself, you realize that what others think does not determine your value. You matter because you know in your heart and soul that you do. No one has to tell you that you matter. You know internally that you are a person worthy of being treated with the decency every human being should be given. You are of value and you know it no matter what someone may think, say or do.
Sometimes we place far too much value on appearances. We feel that if we look a certain way, we are important. We are worthy of love and attention because of our exteriors. The only problem with love based on the surface is that all love returned is based on what you look like, not who you are. People may be drawn to you, but do they really know you? When you love yourself, you give the world more than a nice exterior. You give them your light and personality. You give yourself and the world someone special to know.
Self-Love and The Power of Forgiveness
An important part of loving yourself is forgiving yourself. People, all people, make mistakes. No one lives a life without error. However, when we falter, we take it so hard that we see our entire lives as failures. We can be hard on ourselves.
There is nothing wrong with being ambitious. There is nothing wrong with setting goals. There is something terribly wrong when we punish ourselves because of our mistakes for a lifetime. In short, we must find the grace within to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we make. We cannot expect or demand perfection of others, or even ourselves.
Self-love for the Present
Delayed happiness can be a side effect of low self-esteem. Take for example those times where you might say, “When I get <fill in the blank> I will be happy.” Basing happiness, even pride, on things that have yet to be means condemning yourself to unhappiness until they arrive; if they do. Having self-love in your life means finding joy in the here and now, not the future.
There is always the fear that we may love ourselves too much or that we may think too highly of ourselves. Yet, when you find inner peace, when you find love for who and what you are that is real and based on positive things, arrogance is not an issue. The balance created in self-love has a way of allowing you to be the best person you can be. This does not mean being perfect. It means being you and happy about who and what you are.