As a kid, we’re given conflicting messages about self-love and kindness. We’re taught to give someone else the last piece of pizza or sacrifice our time to help our friend with a homework question. While these examples may seem trivial, they pose the question of where to draw the line between self love and selfishness. What if helping them with homework means you have to stay up until 2 a.m. that night? What if you’ve been looking forward to that pizza all day? I don’t know when selfishness became synonymous with self-love because to me the two are polar opposites. True self love has a total absence of selfishness and is rooted in altruism, acceptance, and kindness.
Our parents have grown up being taught that anything they do for themselves rather than others is inherently selfish, but selfishness is believing that you are better than another person and therefore worthy of more than them. In contrast, self-love is recognizing your complete worth, seeing your innate beauty, and loving yourself so much that this love pours out for others.
Self-love is an integral key to happiness. It fosters confidence, and without confidence, one cannot truly be comfortable in their own skin. In a world filled with beauty, it can be easily to slip into the cracks of comparison. We question why we can’t be as fast as her or have as clear skin as him. We look in the mirror and we wonder how in the random combination of genetics, we turned out looking as mixed up and ugly as we think we do. This self conscious mindset pushes us into the dark cave of unhappiness.
Without confidence–without self love–we can never realize our full potential. We were put on this earth by a god that looked at the world and thought it needed one of us to make it that much more beautiful. We are inherently beautiful with our pepperoni faces and our larger stature. Our uniqueness and the fact that God created us is what makes us beautiful, and there is nothing we can do to change that. It is only the voices in our head that stop us from seeing our true worth.
While at its root, self-love is understanding one’s worth and loving themselves for who they are, it can manifest in difficult situations. Sometimes, self-love requires choosing something for yourself rather than for someone else because it makes you a better vehicle of love and kindness. When we constantly give out to others, we can become drained, lifeless machines. Sometimes we have to say no to volunteering at the homeless shelter one day in order to catch an extra wink of sleep, or we have to say no to helping a friend with a project because our week has been incredibly taxing. When we make these small decisions for our own mental wellbeing, we better prepare ourselves to make bigger decisions in harder situtations that exemplify kindness and love.
Kindness and self-love go hand in hand. When we truly love ourselves, we have the ability to use our gifts and pour out this love for others. I cannot tell someone else how beautiful they are if I don’t believe in my own beauty.
God gave us our mind and body as a gift. When we take the time to love ourselves, God dances at our token of gratitude. Self-love is not easy and often leads us to make difficult decisions. But, if we truly have self-love, we can always find a way to exemplify love for ourselves and for others.