Greek Mythology, talks about a great hunter from Thespiae, (an ancient Greek city) who was renowned for his beauty and was extremely proud of it. Vainly, he had nothing but contempt for those who loved him.
One day, Nemesis (Goddess of divine retribution), attracted this hunter to a pool where he saw his own reflection in the waters and fell in love with it. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, the man pined away and died. This man was NARCISSUS. (from whom the term ‘Narcissistic’ has been coined). This is one extreme of self love gone bad
Self Love is still, by and large, an alien concept to us because of our cultural upbringing.
Culturally, Indians are raised since childhood on the concepts of “Sacrifice” and “Generosity”. Any refusal to part with something you hold dear, is considered as “Selfish”.
We end up living our lives for others, thinking that this must be what “Love” means.
Any thoughts to the contrary and you face a sudden onslaught of guilt and hastily push that thought to the darkest corner of your mind, berating yourself mentally for being so self centered. Oh! How we love to label! Our forefathers were probably afraid of self love turning into unhealthy, festering, self obsession as mentioned above in the story of Narcissus.
The Flip Side
But, have we paused to think? Nope. Since, any sign of independent thinking, too, is generally not accepted by society. We keep vacillating between Narcissism and complete disregard for the self. We are taught the concepts of loving God’s creations and to be charitable to our fellow human beings. But is that sustainable? Can we blindly love our neighbors because we have been told to? Consequently, we keep up a facade of being kind and charitable but seethe with internal resentment, and end up feeling
Confused: because we can’t differentiate between right and wrong any more.
Guilty: because we feel we are doing something wrong by going against our instincts.
Angry and Resentful: Because we blame the world for “forcing” us to do something that we don’t want to.
Afraid: because we don’t want to be wrong and we definitely don’t want to be left alone because we “went” wrong.
Can you imagine the STRESS and ANXIETY at this stage?
• No, because obviously, humane characteristics are desirable for any civilized society.
• Yes, our culture is wrong when it puts emphasis on the results or the byproducts instead of the process. Its like instructing a child “to be successful” without bothering to give instructions about the process involved in being successful.
The solution to this, is giving more importance to celebrating individuality and doing away with herd mentality of any kind.
In Authentic Self Love, you love yourself, know who you are, accept yourself for who you are, identify your self-limiting beliefs and deal with them, gain self confidence, strength, forgive yourself.. and by doing so, you love others, accept others, identify their strengths and weaknesses, forgive them, are not threatened by their ability and so become kind and charitable.
But not because your culture wants you to be, no. You become so, because you finally love yourself the way you are meant to.
How does authentic self love feel like?
- Space to do what you want to do without fear of being judged or reprimanded – Absence of negative self-talk.
- “Know can do” instead of “No can do”.
- No fear of making mistakes or fear state is temporary.
- Ability to create new comfort zones.
- Awareness that you are a unique individual (just like everybody else) and enjoy being one.
- Loving what you do, doing what you love.
- Knowing when to push, knowing when to quit. and feeling quite ok about it..
It’s like having a personal cheerleader in your head that celebrates not only your success but also your failures, because you have learnt something new.
Authentic Self love is an important tool to create power. When you love yourselves authentically, you also love others authentically, making others love you back for your acceptance of what they perceive as their flawed selves. In the process, you empower yourself along with others for them to give you their personal best. Now That’s Power!