In time I stumbled upon it,
An inner calm and peace;
And now I am beginning,
To see and to believe,
In who I am becoming,
And all I have yet to be…
“Self-love, my liege, is not so vile as a sin, as self-neglecting” – is a quote by Shakespeare beautifully presented in ‘Henry V’. It was spoken by Dauphin, son of the king of France. By advocating self-love, the Dauphin is not advising that the king likes himself or has high self-regard (things we associate with self-love), but that he looks after his interests. He is encouraging his father to defend his crown against the English. Self-neglecting—failing to look after his interests—would supposedly be the greater sin. In the 17th century, Pascal and La Rochefoucauld condemned “l’amour propre”—self-love—as the root of most human evil.
La Rochefoucauld wrote the following about amour propre:
“Self-love is the love of the self, and of all things for the self; it makes men idolaters of themselves, and would make them the tyrants of others, if fortune gave them the means. It never rests outside oneself, but only stops in others as bees stop on flowers, to take from them what is proper to it.”
So, do we in the 21st century think about self-love more like Shakespeare’s Dauphin does or like La Rochefoucauld does? Do we view pursuing our self-interest as preferable to neglecting it, or do we regard pursuing our own interests as self-idolatry, harmful to both us and others?
Today, when we have ‘progressed’, people believe that loving yourself is sinful and selfish but could it be more sinful than neglecting ourselves and not being grateful for the lovely possession God gave you, talking about none other than yourself! People will always keep disparaging us, but we should never let anyone’s ignorance, hate, drama, or negativity stop us from being the best person we can be. We should hang in there, perhaps, the most important courage in the courage to endure, to persist, and to hang in there in the face of doubt, uncertainty, and criticism from others.
Easier preached than practiced, loving yourself is not an easy task. Since the very beginning, we have looked for our happiness in others’ confirmations and validations. For, we think less about ourselves and more about what others and society think about us. Self-perception is the way we think about ourselves. It includes our every action and thought frame. Unfortunately, a big problem with people is that their self-perception is very poor. They always feel like they are incapable of being loved, and thus, they tend to often feel insecure and blame themselves for the same! But the truth behind this is, that people do not know their true potential. Most supremely, our potential does not lie in our face. But in our soul, heart and mind lies our true potential and self-worth.
Perceiving our self-worth is like the origin of ‘amour propre’. The only one who gets to decide your self-worth is you. It is called ‘self’ worth for a reason. It does not come from how slim or beautiful you are. It comes from you, from who you are deep inside – beautiful, limitless, wonderful, creative, strong, vulnerable, capable, and all you want to be. It comes from being yourself and you should never apologize for being who you are. We should not get rebellious and rigid; we should keep making improvements and be a better version of ourselves each day. But we must not lose our spark for others.
‘To err is human, to forgive divine.’ We humans often tend to overthink our flaws and errors, but the reality is that not everyone is perfect. We all have our flaws and we must accept, improve and embrace them. We must be brave enough to take off the masks we wear out there and get to know who we truly are underneath. Be vulnerable enough to accept your flaws and know that they are what make you human; they are what make you real. To love ourselves, we must be confident enough to accept and cherish our strengths also. Don’t minimize or hide them regardless of how small they are. They spotlight your alluring journey from nowhere to somewhere! They are your marvelous gifts; share them with the world, appreciate yourself for them, and be valiant enough to say, that all of this is who I am! Because if you accept your flaws, not only will you love yourself, you will have a sense of gratitude towards life. You will also start to accept others’ flaws and love them too.
But at some point, in life, you have to realize that if you can't love yourself, you cannot love anyone else! Loving yourself is an essential prerequisite to loving someone and being loved in return. Your goal is to fall in love with everything you are because you don't want to let your happiness depend on something you may lose. Life is so much better when you use things and not people and when you love people and not things.
Even if life is more about surviving than living, don't lose hope. Even if you are weak, you can still be kind, for the true power is giving instead of taking. Even if you don't have anyone, you can love yourself!
Perhaps the biggest mistake we have made in the past was believing that love was about finding the right person, but in reality, love is about becoming the right person. Become the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. :)
By PRATISTHA BHATIA / FEB 26, 2022