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Defining & Discovering Self-love

The ubiquitous phrase 'self-love' has been permeating our modern day society for several years and doesn't seem to be losing "followers". Among the promoters are celebrities, psychologists, and social media influencers. And that may be a good thing-or may not be what it seems. Let's delve in deeper by first studying the different definitions of self-love.

  1. The regard for one's own well-being and happiness

  2. Taking care of your own needs above the 'needs' of others

  3. An often unjustified feeling of being pleased with one's own abilities, accomplishments, or comforts

The first definition is simple and to the point. Generally speaking, most of us have enough self love to believe we should have our needs and some of our wants met. Because we do care for our well-being we will pursue positive actions to change and improve our lives. We will use compassion toward ourselves and not use self deprecating talk while ruminating on our weaknesses and imperfections.

Why is it important? Such behavior may lead down the slippery slope to self-loathing.

Thoughts, feelings and actions that don't align with our values are said to be self-sabotaging. Awareness of our true belief system is key to living our lives with authenticity. The right core values can assist us in achieving personal growth, being better decision makers and building stronger relationships.

As children in our families we may have learned certain core beliefs, whether directly or indirectly, that became our compass on the sea of life. Hopefully they were positive principles such as integrity, compassion, and justice. A few other vital traits that morally healthy parents, or guardians, would have taught us -by example at least- are courage, empathy and respect. However, there is no such thing as perfect families, parents...or children for that matter.

Let's study the second definition of self-love which is listed above. It reads-Taking care of your own needs above the 'needs' of others. The 'needs of others' could have two different meanings here. Suppose it simply is conveying the idea that we choose to take care of our own needs before we help others. Whether that be time, care, or money. Another meaning might be- we will refuse to give into the manipulation of others attempting to cross our personal boundaries.

But, if we consider our needs more important than our neighbor's then we've entered the danger zone of selfish pride. The greatest book in the history of the world teaches us that 'it is more blessed to give than to receive." What's more, Jesus Christ sacrificed himself on the cross for mankind-revealing the greatest display of selfless love the world has ever known. His love is unconditional because we don't have to earn it.

Why is it so hard for some people to love others? Or themselves? Could the problem be they don't know or understand what real love is? They don't know what it feels like to be truly loved. Maybe they've sought for it from what the world has to offer. Maybe they searched for self-love through their abilities, accomplishments and wealth. (Definition#3) And for a while they felt somewhat contented until the emptiness overtook them again.

No matter what attempts they made to fill up the hole in their soul, it never satisfied. As a seventeen year old girl I experienced an 'identity crisis'. It was the late 70s and I was getting ready to graduate. Pondering my future, I felt a mixture of confusion, fear and emptiness. Confusion about who I was-my true self. Fear of not finding true meaning and purpose in life. Emptiness that I didn't fully understand.

But God called me out of the darkness of sin by His grace and then I was transformed by the light of His amazing love. God's nature is love. ( I John 4:8) He is the origin of love. (I John 4:19) He loves sinners (Romans 5:8) You see, we cannot know real love apart from Jesus Christ. When we allow the heavenly Father to fill up our soul with His divine love then we are made whole. We will discover who we were truly meant to be-children of the One true God.

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, II Timothy 1:9

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. Luke 9:23, 24

The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.(Psalm 22) As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. (Psalm 17)


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