“This self-love is the instrument of our preservation; it resembles the provision for the perpetuity of mankind: it is necessary, it is dear to us, it gives us pleasure, and we must conceal it.” ~ Voltaire
We can often talk a good game when it comes to self-love. “You need to take care of yourself,” we might tell a friend, or “Your feelings count too.” But have you noticed that it is often easier to sing the self-love anthem when you’re delivering it to someone else?
In truth, self-love is the opposite of selfishness, but until we start to live that truth, the harder it is to learn. So here are a few related points to help you express self-love without feeling selfish about it. May they bring you peace.
1. There is no such thing as separateness.
If you know, as I do, that we are all one, then you also know our energy isn’t separate. That’s why, when I take the time to love myself, my energy becomes more loving for others. After all, “my” love and “your” love are one and the same. That’s why we feel positive around positive people. It’s why laughter can be infectious, and why charity spreads.
Although it is possible to express love for others more readily than we express it to ourselves, if we really want to love more fully, I can’t recommend self-love enough. Think of love like a tank of air that a deep-sea diver breathes with. If the air in the love tank is depleted, it is harder to find the energy to help others. If the air in the love tank is full, we can help others without the slightest stress—at times, it almost becomes effortless. So how do we keep our love tank filled? Through being loved. So when you express self-love, you fill that tank right up, and then you have more energy to love the world. Is that selfish? Of course not!
3. The way we speak to ourselves is the way we speak to others.
If you have a punishing voice inside yourself, then that punishing voice will appear to others. Think about it. When you hear someone saying, “I must go running,” or “I’m terrible at keeping my bedroom clean,” then the punishment points towards all of us, saying Everyone should go running and everyone should keep their bedroom clean. On the other hand, when we love ourselves, and say, “I’m learning to organize the house in a way that suits me, and I’m doing well—especially considering how busy I am,” then you express that feeling to the universe. You are more open, less judgmental, kinder, and lighter. And those around you will feel that too.
If you’re more punishing, those you attract will be more punishing. If you are kind and opened, those around you will be too. That’s why affirmations are a powerful source of self-love—because by helping you to love yourself, they help you to attract more love, and that’s how you perpetuate loving energy.
5. If you can only feel the love for others, it’s harder to learn that you will always be loved.
Once we know that we are self-loving, we naturally put less pressure on others to make us feel loved. Our cords are cut, which means we’re connected to one another by love and truth, not by karmic shackles. Self-loving people also model self-love, which is one of the biggest gifts that you can give the universe. If you’d like to know the power of modeling, look to Bandura’s classic—and ethically questionable—experiment with children and a Bobo doll.
The more you live your life this way, the more amazed you will be at your capacity for happiness and benevolence. This I believe. And I hope that you do too.