In order to be your kindest and most loving self, you must first love yourself. I’ve heard many people say that loving yourself is selfish, but is it really?
The definition of “selfish” from dictionary.com is:
“devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.”
Looking at the definition, I think it is erroneous to say that loving yourself is selfish. First, loving yourself in no way necessitates that a person is “devoted to or caring only for oneself.” It is very possible and in fact probable, that you can love and care for others and yourself simultaneously.
Further, while loving yourself can and should be a top priority in your life, this does not mean you are “concerned primarily” with yourself “regardless of others.” It is very possible to have multiple priorities at once, and there is no reason why loving yourself means you must neglect others in your life. In fact, loving yourself often does quite the opposite.
People who say that loving yourself is selfish might argue that the time you take to nurture yourself and meet your own needs takes away from the time and energy that you can use to meet other’s needs. There are a couple things wrong with this argument. First, when we are not meeting our own needs and are caring for others, we are running on very low batteries and we will eventually burn out, have a mental breakdown, become resentful, or a mix of all three.
On the contrary, when we are true to ourselves and take the time and energy to care for our own needs and desires, we recharge our batteries. Not only does taking this time for ourselves make us feel happier and healthier, but it makes us more energetic in all other areas of our lives. Of course, the more energy we have, the more we have to give to others.
Next, in the argument that caring for ourselves takes away from meeting other people’s needs, there is the assumption that we should be meeting other people’s needs for them (and sacrifice our needs at the expense of other’s).
When we are a parent or caregiver, it is our job to keep our loved ones/clients safe from harm and to help meet the needs that they cannot meet themselves. Other than these situations, however, each person is in charge of meeting his or her own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. While we can help support others in meeting their needs, we cannot meet these needs for anyone but ourselves. For example, we can give our partner all the love in the world, but if they are not loving themselves, the love we give will never seem to be enough. Likewise, we can provide companionship to someone, but if they are not seeking other ways to feel connection outside of us, they will feel a sense of isolation and lack.
What a burden so many of us put on ourselves- to be the sole source of love or happiness for another human being! It’s not possible of course, but even if it were, it would literally take all of our time and energy and we’d never have any left for ourselves.. a true recipe for disaster that leaves one person completely drained and the other completely dependent on the other.
Is it important to love and care for the people in our lives? Absolutely. Is it important to love and care for ourselves? Absolutely.. and in fact, you could argue this is more important because when we lack love for ourselves, we can only love others to a limited extent. When we fail to love ourselves, we not only rely on others to need us in order to feel good, but we enable and encourage others to depend on us to meet their needs, which ultimately can never be successful.
Making self-love a priority in your life will not only make you a happier and healthier person in all aspects of your life, but will enable you to be a kinder and more loving person to your loved ones and everyone you come into contact with.
So go and get your self-love on!!!
(More information on self-love and strategies/exercises for loving and nurturing yourself to come soon!)