Image: Flickr. Live Life Happy
Do you love yourself? Do you even like yourself? These are important questions, because so many of us appear to give ourselves negative and demeaning messages.
Especially in this Covid-19 pandemic, it is important that we can value and take care of ourselves; those who may have to self-isolate will need even more to be able to love themselves enough to get through this difficult time.
We all talk to ourselves, much of the time. These conversations we have in our heads are very revealing in giving clues to our self-image and our ways of thinking about ourself.
For example, if we make an error, do we give ourselves shaming messages such as “You silly idiot!” or do we show compassion and reassure ourselves that it’s ok, forgive ourselves and think ‘we’ll get it right next time? ‘
Are we a good and kind parent to our inner child?
Or do we, on the contrary, make ourselves cry over spilt milk by rebuking ourselves inwardly for our mistakes?
Would we speak to our best friend as we speak to ourselves? Are we full of self-criticism and sometimes, self-hatred?
Destructive messages to the self may be a repeat of negative childhood experiences, especially if we did not grow up feeling loved or valued by our parental figures.
Accepting Ourselves Means Others Will Generally Value Us More.
“And above all things, never think that you’re not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning.”
Feeling good enough and not comparing ourselves unfavourably with others is important in terms of self-image.
The internet may sometimes be unhelpful in our quest for an improved self image; the temptation in some people to emulate the supermodels we see onscreen can be detrimental to our self-worth, especially for the young.
Are we slim enough, beautiful enough, sexy enough, fit enough?
Enough for who…….?
Trying to be perfect in order to fit in with some social or cultural ‘norm’ is a denial of the fact of our difference. We all have so many aspects, which may not match up to some plasticised computer image, but which may be far, far better and more real:
‘I am large, I contain multitudes’.
Self-love and Narcissism: The Difference.
Whilst learning to love oneself, it is, of course, important not to be too egotistical. Loving oneself healthily is not about becoming narcissistic and being self-obsessed.
Narcissism is different from having healthy feelings of self-worth. It involves, amongst other features, an overblown sense of one’s own importance, a lack of empathy and a need to be constantly admired.
Unlike Narcissus, who ended up in suicidal despair because the love he felt for his reflection could not be materialised, we need to develop the ability to have a healthy self-image, so that we can be free to focus on others.
Caravaggio. Narcissus. Wikimedia Commons.
“Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world. ”
― Mary Oliver
Feeling free enough to care for others is especially relevant in the current coronavirus emergency.
Loving Oneself Helps Us Enjoy and Appreciate Life More.
True happiness arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one’s self, and in the next, from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions.
….even if that friendship and those conversation are now conducted on the telephone or online!
If we can learn to love ourselves, then the world will feel more full of opportunity and possibilities. Knowing ourselves and valuing our preferences means that we can fill our lives with things that we like doing, making choices that suit us and make us feel happy.
“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
Self- Care: We Only Have Ourselves.
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”
The biblical command to ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself,’ means that we have to love ourselves first, before we can love others.
However, the statement implies that we all love ourselves; in reality, many people do not love or value themselves.
Altruism cannot be achieved without loving ourselves. Self-care has to come first.
Can we be enough for ourselves? If we constantly rely on other people for our happiness and rarely on ourselves, we may be disappointed.
‘In the end, you only have you.’ Leo Buscaglia.
The one person you’ll be spending the rest of your life with is you. Treat yourself with love and respect.
How we see ourselves determines how we see the world and how the world sees us.
Respecting ourselves involves looking after our bodies and our minds.
There are hundreds of self-care sites on the internet that list many ways of looking after ourselves and nurturing our self-belief.
“Sometimes you need to take a break from everyone and spend time alone to experience, appreciate, and love yourself.” – Robert Tew
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe