Self-Love and Criticism Towards Society
Updated: Aug 5
The difficulty of self-love is not one's fault, but society's and its 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 had the possibility of being 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 have to be all about other people? Why is self-love considered almost like a taboo, socially and normally? From the day of birth until the very end, we are taught that the meaning of being useful is to contribute and to interact with the environment, and that 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 in playing video games are constantly labeled as lifeless basement dwellers. Bookworms are perceived as nerdy and therefore unimportant. Anonymous people with no significant contribution to society are left ignored, even if they are talented at something.
We are taught to believe that having meaning in life always has to relate to other people. Because of this false dogma, which is taken seriously by many, why would self-love be an easy task?
Self-love is about knowing that one has meaning beyond society. The individual is not defined by their social background or local community.
They are first and foremost 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, they may have little time to truly be with themselves. Like a romantic couple would have time in seclusion to be together.
In my opinion, without knowing and accepting the inescapable state of solitude, one cannot truly love themselves. It's 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? Just as intimacy is a must for optimal romantic love, solitude is a must for optimal self-love. Because learning to be with ourselves can help us appreciate who we truly are, as authentic beings.
Loving oneself is more than just acceptance, because accepting something is not the same as loving something. For an individual to love themselves, they must venture within themselves and find comfort in the inner realm they discover in their solitary explorations.
When we get into our beds, we need the bed to be comfortable enough so we can have a good night's sleep. Similarly, when we get inside ourselves (The Internal World), we need our own company to be comfortable and satisfying enough so we can gradually achieve high-quality self-love. If we do not find joy and self-content, we cannot love ourselves the way we wish to, just like the sleeping metaphor.
Because who does not like to sleep? Sleep is a state of bliss. In my case at least, it's a state where I escape my chronic pains. I am only awake for days straight because work is important to me. But if I was more forgiving to myself, I would just try sleeping for days on end, independent of suffering. Likewise, I believe self love can be like the love of sleep. For sleep is a state of pure disconnection from the world, and thus, a time to be with only yourself.
I believe that loving oneself is one of the most important quests in the journey of life. Social norms view the ideal life with cliché and desired stereotypes altogehter: a supportive family, a loving partner, joyful children, a high-income job - but where is oneself in all of this? Does achieving all of these ambitions 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 they are going in life, and what they wish to achieve and become, besides the social and traditional expectations. What they want to do and to be in life according to their own expectations.
However, how much do we really know what we wish in life? Not what others wish for us, but what we wish for ourselves. But what do we, individually, wish for ourselves that does not necessarily come hand-in-hand with the wishes of others?
As we become more aware of ourselves and where we may go with our personal will, we can love ourselves for who we are and what we wish to become. Life, after all, is a series of achieving goals and tasks. And we have the potential to decide which goals and tasks are to be achieved, regardless of other people. And either benefit or suffer from the consenquences of our actions. When one is able to act outside of conformity, one is also able to use his or her free will.
The more our ambitions and achievements are truly ours to behold, the more control we have over our lives. It is a human grace to be capable of loving what we have in our control, and thus, to our manifestation and leadership, over it.
When in control, life can be more of our own creation. And what is a dog to its master if the master has no love for it? The dog will live in misery, for it is not loved, and this will eventually affect the owner as well. Loving life is equivalent to loving oneself in some form. If you don't like life, why would you like yourself, the one who narrates and hosts it within you?