“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” ~ Ambrose Bierce
I find it sad that it takes courage to love ourselves. But the truth is that our culture has come so far from our natural way of being – which is to love ourselves – that now it does take courage, a lot of courage.
Why? Because many of us have been programmed to believe that being ‘selfless’ is being good, and that being loving to ourselves is selfish. We’ve been programmed to believe that if we ignore our own feelings and needs and attend to the feelings and needs of others, then we will be seen as good and we will be loved.
There is so much backward thinking in these statements that I hardly know where to begin to untangle it.
Loving yourself – loving the spark of the Divine within you, your soul that is created in the image of God-that-is-love – is like loving a beloved child. It’s about cherishing your intrinsic gifts and sharing them with those you love. When you are truly loving yourself, you would never be selfish because it’s very unloving to yourself to be selfish – i.e. to not care about the effect your behavior has on others, to ignore others’ feelings and needs, and to expect others to give themselves up for you. Loving yourself is what fills you with love to share with others.
Selflessness is actually the opposite of knowing who you are – knowing the beauty and greatness of your soul essence. Anyone who has been selfless knows that it eventually leads to feeling depleted and depressed, because when you are giving to others without also loving yourself, you end up feeling empty inside. When you give to get love, others generally receive without giving back.
If this is what you’ve been doing, it takes great courage to focus on loving yourself and letting go of caretaking others to get love. Those to whom you’ve been giving, in order to get their attention and approval, may become angry at you for what they perceive as you abandoning them. They liked your caretaking and they may not even know how to be with you in supporting your own and others’ highest good. So it takes great courage to weather their wrath and perhaps even lose them.
It can be so scary to do this, that only when loving yourself becomes more important to you than your fear of rejection, will you open to learning about what is in your highest good.
This is where I was 32 years ago when Spirit brought us our inner work healing process. I was quite ill and knew that if I continued to abandon myself, I would die. I was terrified of losing those I loved, but even more terrified to get sicker. My desire to be healthy, alive, and manifesting my gifts gave me the courage to begin learning to love myself.
If you are anxious, depressed and lonely, and you have been selfless rather than self-loving, you might consider that being selfless – i.e. abandoning yourself to get love and approval – isn’t working. It’s now well known that Mother Teresa, the saint of selflessness, was deeply depressed most of her life and sought therapeutic help over and over for her depression. Unfortunately, at that time, none of the therapists understand that the source of her depression was that she was abandoning herself. She didn’t abandon herself to get others’ love and approval. She abandoned herself because she believed that this is what being loving to others meant, but it left her inner child alone and depressed within.
I hope you let go of your old concepts of selflessness and selfishness and have the courage to learn to love yourself, fill yourself with love, and share your beautiful intrinsic gifts with others.