Sometimes, we are so busy loving other people that we neglect and forget the most important person that we should love – ourselves. Now, don’t get me wrong here. Loving yourself isn’t being selfish. In fact, it should be the top priority in our list of things to do in life. Loving oneself should not be confused with “obsessive love of one’s self” or having “narcissistic tendencies.” Remember Narcissus, in Greek mythology, the young man who saw his image reflected in a pool of water and fell in love with it?
Well, in Narcissus’s case, it was “obsessive love.” Everything excessive is bad. What we are talking about is “self-love” which is healthy and important for our well-being and happiness. I learned this truth the hard way and I paid a hefty price for it. When I was younger, I was always trying to love and make other people happy. However, as I got older, I realized that I had forgotten about myself and how to take care of my own needs.
Then, something unexpected happened which opened my eyes to this truth. One day, I got ill and I brought myself to the hospital. I felt so alone and helpless during that time, that I began to question myself why I had ignored my own health and put others’ well-being on top of mine. I finally realized that I was doing something wrong—I was loving everyone except myself! The doctor gave me a piece of advice that I would never forget for the rest of my life. She said, “You must learn how to love and take care of yourself. No one else would love and take care of you but yourself.” That was a wake-up call for me. What does it mean by love oneself?
Simply put, it means knowing your worth, taking care of yourself and your own needs before others. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you would not love your other fellow being. It only means that you are putting your physical, mental and emotional health above the rest and ensuring that you are living a good and healthy lifestyle. You shouldn’t feel guilty for treating yourself to a good lunch or buying the dress you saw and loved while window shopping. As a matter of fact, you should treat yourself regularly. Self-love will boost your mood, confidence and self-esteem and in the process give you satisfaction more than you could ever imagine or anticipate. It will teach you how to respect, accept and forgive yourself for your shortcomings.
The first rule is to live a healthy life. This entails watching the food you eat and eating in moderation, exercising regularly and doing the things that make you happy without stepping onto someone else’s foot or crossing the boundary of other people. One of the best and most beautiful songs I have ever heard in my whole life is the song “The Greatest Love of All” by the late legendary singer Whitney Houston.
The first time I heard this song, it struck me to the core of my being. It is the reality at its finest. While loving others, we must not forget to love ourselves. The song goes like this: “I decided long ago, never to walk on anyone’s shadow; if I fail, if I succeed, at least I live as I believe, no matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity… Because the greatest love of all is happening to me, I found the greatest love of all inside of me… The greatest love of all is easy to achieve; learning to love yourself, is the greatest love of all.”
So why is it important to love oneself? As the old saying goes, “You cannot give what you do not have.” This may sound weird to some but this is true.
If you do not have a love for yourself inside you, then you cannot share it and take care of other people. Love should begin inside each one of us. It should be our guiding principle in life. It would teach us the meaning of empathy, how to be compassionate and understanding of our neighbor, and help us to stay sharp, focused, motivated, and healthy. The way we treat and love ourselves sets the standard for others. After mastering the art of self-love, we must also teach its importance to other people so that they, too, could pass their love onto someone else. Imagine, if people could genuinely love themselves and their neighbor, then love will be around us, everywhere we go. On top of it, loving yourself will make you happy and content in life. It will help you grow and become the person that you were created to be and at the same time, be a role model to others. So love yourself genuinely and make sure that you are living a good, happy, and healthy life. Remember, the greatest and most important gift you could give yourself is love!