What may seem excessive to a casual onlooker, like numerous postings of selfies or constant talk about yourself or conversations about your own personal achievements rather than listening to those of others (and tuning out when someone else speaks), is not arrogance. Not egoism. Not lack of manners. If you really stop and look at that person and set your judgements aside, you'll see that whoever is doing it is actually trying to practice self-love. I say "trying" because this is the first stage of it, the first phase of healing. By focusing on self, by sharing self unreservedly, by loving self in any way one can, similar to that of a child who is excited about something, you can come to the next phase, to where you're assured of your own self-love and you can begin having space to love others. Don't confuse this with unhealthy narcissism that comes from the desire to be watched, not to be seen.
What hinders this healing process for many of us, especially if we come from neglecting, abusive, dehumanizing backgrounds, is the shaming we receive in return. Add to that gender, and the shaming gets worse. Add race, and it's no longer shaming, it's public lynching. Until we learn that to love self is what precedes loving others, and that by nurturing self-love in those around us by not discouraging them but by cheering them on, we will all learn to graduate from individual focus to focus on community, and that kind of love has the power to stop wars.
If the need for self-love comes from the wounds of childhood (the need to be seen), the need for love that is only individual, that is narcissism (the need to be watched), comes from capitalist and consumerist culture, from society driven by lust for power and material gain that is beneficial only for one. This is where the second stage of healing often strays. We confuse self-loving with self-gratification, with fulfilling only our own needs, and we think those needs can be satisfied with things, but they cannot. We can shop to death, it won't make us love ourselves better. However, this change that we must make is highly unprofitable for the economy we live in today. It's more profitable to keep us hating ourselves, to make us buy more.
So you see, if you want to find self-love, if you want to be able to climb out of that devastation and depression you feel at one or another point in your life—and we all do, we all feel it often—you're up against two powerful forces:
1. One lives inside of you.
It must be conquered from within. You must understand that you're no longer a child who is hungry for love from parents and family. You're an adult and you can give this love you always craved to yourself by loving yourself. You don't need a parent for that.
2. Another lives outside of you.
It must be fought every day by seclusion and ignorance, or by protesting and speaking up, depending on how healthy within yourself you feel to fight the very society you live in. You're pressured to consume instead of loving everywhere you turn. Ads on the Internet, on TV, in the stores, scream at you, "Buy! Buy! Buy!" People everywhere you go look at your body, your dress, your conduct, and judge you accordingly, without taking the time to see you for who you are. The world you face every day is that of personal protection, where you're not allowed to intrude on personal space, strike up a conversation with a stranger without potentially intruding—everyone hides in their phones, their headphones, their houses, their cars.
If you look at this picture, you start seeing why we're all sick. The game of politics that we're all witnessing at the moment is a mirror of this, and it's enough to plunge you into despair. After all, what can you do to change it?
Start with you. Find self-love and practice it every day. Stop looking for love from others. Stop demanding it. You don't need someone else to love you to feel loved. You have you. You love you. That's enough. That's all you need. The more you do it, the happier you will get, the happier you will make those around you, the happier we all will be as a result.
Writing for me is such path to self-love. I'm so ecstatic about it all the time because I can't get enough of it. I finally know I'm enough. All I need is me. This is freedom. It may be different for you. It can be making art or racing motorcycles or climbing mountains or feeding homeless or knitting quietly a hundred socks just for the fun of it. Whatever it is, I invite you to do it. Not tomorrow. Not when you will have money and time. It's a myth. There is never going to be enough money (consumerism will make sure of that) and there is never going to be enough time (your lack of self-love will make sure of that).
I invite you to start NOW.
This very minute stop reading this post and do something for yourself for no other reason but because you enjoy it. If you're afraid someone will judge you for it, find a place where you can do it alone and start there. When ready, you can start doing it in front of other people. And guess what will happen. By doing what you love for yourself you will inspire others to do the same. They will see you do it, and they will be moved to try it for themselves. Now this is the power of love. This can move mountains. This can really change us all.
So go for it. Still here? Okay. Maybe you need another little boost. Go ahead and share in the comments what is it you always wanted to do but denied yourself. Be as silly or as crazy as you want. If we all shared more of ourselves without the fear of being perceived as selfish, when in fact we're being self-loving (and I have used the word "selfish" wrongly before in this post, when I meant "self-loving"), imagine what would be possible. Makes you dizzy, right?
I'll start. There is one thing that makes me happy and that I always feel ashamed to do, because it's only for me. And that's to wander aimlessly. I love getting out of the house and just going somewhere without thinking where, and then ending up somewhere. With my writing and reading I don't do enough of it, I'm still scared. My inner child that's afraid of being punished for being lazy and that still hopes that her mama and her papa will love her if she only keeps busy, if she pleases them, that's who is afraid, not me. So I'm stopping typing this post, and off I go. Into the sun and the rain and the clouds. To aimlessly wander.
I love you.