The truth about self-love isn't so glamorous.
In today's world, we speak of self-love like it’s the cure-all for every problem. As though if we just love ourselves more all our problems will go away. I’m guilty of this myself. The issue with a culture hyper-focused on self-love is we tend to overlook one huge truth; humans were created for relational love.
By design, we thrive best in the community. Regardless of if you are an extrovert or introvert the experience of relational love (familial, platonic, and romantic) is essential to our mental and emotional development. I myself pursued self-love for years only to find that moment of self-acceptance and unconditional love for self to be rather unfulfilling. Loving myself didn’t take away my longing for true and lasting romantic love, nor did it heal my strained relationships with family members. It didn’t give me the perfect self-image or permanently set my self-esteem. Self-love didn’t fix all my issues related like I thought it would.
“ Self-love didn’t fix all my issues like I thought it would. "
The Truth About Self Love
Self-love did increase my self-awareness and self-acceptance. Self-love gave me the foundation and tools to face challenges head-on, to confront my issues with myself. Self-love helped me to raise my standards and properly adjust my expectations of myself and others. Most importantly, self-love has given me the capacity to truly show up for myself & others, always with grace. Self-love for me leads me to walk in the truth of love as an action & commitment, not simply a flighting feeling.
Don’t get me wrong self-love has been a transformative power in my life. It has brought me closer to my divine core & made me whole and one with the Lord. By no means do I wish for this post to be interpreted as a discredit to self-love, I’m simply saying it’s not enough.
The truth is, pampering yourself, cutting off friends and family, treating yourself to decadent meals and shopping sprees, elaborate baths, and pouring into yourself endlessly won't ever fill the void left by a lack of community. There is no amount of solely pouring into yourself that will heal all your wounds completely. Self-love is simply the first step.
We were created to learn within a community and to thrive in the safety of a family. We were designed to heal and grow through the experience of love. Today we have adopted a perverted version of self-love that is hyper-selfish, self-centered, and hyper-individualistic. This version of self-love discredits the power of community, fails to acknowledge the wholeness of God, and encourages superficial solutions to inner unhealed wounds. Self-love in true essence is love for God communicated through the honoring of self and others. Self-love is true to form causes you to be more open to accepting yourself and others.
The trick to a peaceful life is learning how to serve yourself as well as others. It’s a balancing act between giving and receiving. When we place too much emphasis on hyper-individualistic self-love we place too much emphasis on receiving, not enough on giving, and miss out on the greatest joy of all. This can easily lead to deepening feelings of isolation and loneliness in the long run. Love of any type is designed to bridge and connect, never to isolate.
While I once thought I could self-love all my problems away, as I continue to grow I realize more and more that self-love without healthy relational love to support it is a relatively ineffective tool for inner peace. I encourage you to peruse self-love and relational love at the same rate. Both are equally important and should be valued and cherished as such.