Updated: Aug 25, 2019
The one to blame for the difficulty of self-love is not one but ones, which are - society and their norms.
I once said in a compulsory group meeting that I love myself. It made no impression on others, and no special responses. However I knew deep inside that I have the possibility to be perceived as a selfish and egoistic person. After a few seconds of silence someone replied: “But there are also other people”.
Other people, other people! Does one’s life all have to be about other people? Why in the social and normative eyes, self-love is considered almost like a taboo? From the day of birth until the very end, we are taught that the meaning of being useful is to contribute and to come in interaction with the environment, and being alone for long periods of time (for example, using the computer for extensive periods) is equivalent to “having no life”. Gamers who find lots of fun and satisfaction while playing video games are constantly reviewed as lifeless basement dwellers; book worms are perceived to be nerdish and therefore non-important; anonymous people with no significant contribution to society are left ignored, even if the said people are talented at something.
We were taught to believe that having meaning in life always has to relate to other people. Because of such false dogma which is taken seriously in agreement, why would self-love would become an easy task?
Self-love is about knowing that one has meaning beyond society. The individual is not identical to his social background or local community. He is first of all an entity of various potentials to be achieved, regardless of any social construct. Due to the centrality of society and family in one’s life, he or she may have little time to truly be with themselves like a romantic couple have time in seclusion. In my opinion, knowing and accepting the inescapable state that is solitude, one cannot truly love himself, just like a couple cannot truly love themselves when they don’t have the time to be alone together. Why would couples love each other if they are busy all the time with an external source to distract them from intimacy? Because intimacy is a must for an optimal romantic love, solitude is a must for an optimal self-love.
Loving oneself got more than just acceptance, because accepting something is not identical to love something. For an individual to love themselves, they ought to venture within themselves and to find comfort in the inner realm they discover in their solitary explorations. When getting inside our beds, we need the bed to be comfortable enough so we could have a high-quality sleep. Thus, when getting inside ourselves, we need our own company to be comfortable and satisfying enough so we may achieve, gradually, high-quality of self-love. If we do not find joy and self-content, we cannot love ourselves the way we wish too, just like the sleeping metaphor.
I believe that loving oneself is one of the most vital quests in the journey of life. The social norms view the ideal life with cliche yet desired stereotypes: a supporting family, a loving partner, joyful children, high-income job - but where is oneself in all of this? Does achieving all these ambitions shall grant us self-love? No, because one can have all of the desired things on the social-economic level - yet remain unsatisfied and even nihilistic. To love oneself, one needs to know where is he or she going in life, and what they wish to achieve and become beyond the social and the traditional expectations. However how much do we really know what we wish in life? Not what others wish for, for us, but what we wish from ourselves. But what do we, individually, wish for ourselves that does not necessarily come hand-by-hand with the wishes of others?
As we become more aware of ourselves and where we may go by a personal and uncompromising will, one can love himself for who he is and what he wishes to become. Life, after all is a series of achieving goals and tasks. The more the ambitions and achievements are truly yours to behold, the more control you have over your life, and it is of humane grace to be capable of loving what we have in our control, and thus, to our manifestation and leadership. When in control, life can be your own creation, and what is a dog to its master if the master has no love to it? The dog shall live in misery, for it is not loved, and it shall affect, eventually, the owner themselves. Loving life is equivalent to loving oneself in some form: If you don’t like life, why would you like yourself, regarding that you are usually in the center and the narrative of it?