Self-love is the ability to love ourselves just as we are. Self-love has nothing to do with our behavior, our accomplishments, successes, material possessions, or relationship status. We are lovable for who we are, not for what we do or what we have.
And yet, how many people truly love themselves?
In our journey through life, we put on layers that separate us from who we are. We do that because we believe who we are is not enough to get us the love and approval we need: from our parents, our teachers, our friends, coworkers, bosses… Those layers create masks we wear to hide our true self, our true identity. By doing so, we become more and more disconnected from our authentic self. We lose ourselves in the roles we play. We forget who we are.
We are not our behaviors. We are not our thoughts. We are not our emotions. The essence of who we are remains intact. It just gets covered up through layers of conditioning, false beliefs and false identities. Just like Michaelangelo has to sculpt away all the layers that covered David, we need to peel away all the layers that make up the constructed false self to uncover the real authentic self.
The more we are able to love ourselves unconditionally, the more we can love others unconditionally. Our relationship with others is a reflection of our relationship with ourselves.
How is self-love different from selfishness?
The same action can carry the energy of self-love or selfishness depending on the intention behind the action. If the intention is taking care of myself, then it is self-love. If the intention is fear, anger or other negative emotions, then it is not self-love.
No matter what action you take, look at the place where it’s coming from. Is it coming from the heart, from the higher self, from the soul or is it coming from a place of self-serving or little self? Be clear with yourself about the intention behind your actions.
Even if you do something for self-love reasons, somebody can still accuse you of being selfish. If that affects you that means that somewhere inside of you, something believes that you are being selfish. It is important to address that part that believes you are being selfish and look at the underlying beliefs and emotions. Could be guilt, could be being not enough. Once you address that, then you are clear with yourself and you won’t be affected even if people accuse you of being selfish. People can still perceive your behavior as being selfishness because you are not serving their agenda but you won’t take it personally because you are clear with yourself.
It is important to take care of yourself first. When you do that you fill your own love tank, you are full and you can serve from a place of fullness rather than from a place of emptiness. In airplanes, you get instructed to put on your oxygen mask before helping someone else. That is a very good advice for life. But most people do it backward. They help others from a place of emptiness. They run on empty and subconsciously there is an expectation of return. Then they get resentful when they don’t receive back. Putting yourself first is not selfish.