What is self love?

This question immediately gives rise to a second question, which I feel is equally important. If we ask what is self love, shouldn’t we first define the self?

What is self? Or are we referring to Self, with a capital S?

The small self, or self with a lower-case s is typically associated with the ego. It is the limited idea of ourselves. It is what we believe ourselves to be in relation to who we think we are, who others think we are, and is largely defined by our limited perspective and inability to think beyond our own self-limitations.

The large Self, or Self with a capital S, is the expanded understanding of who we are. It does not identify itself with a particular gender, race, or nationality, because this Self understands the inclusiveness of all things.

In terms of self-love, the Self does indeed unconditionally love the self, despite all it’s limitations. When we can look at ourselves through an expanded lense of understanding held by the Self, then we can accept our self as it is, full of shortcomings, misunderstandings, and past mistakes.

Self Love Requires Healthy Boundaries

My family and I recently visted San Francisco. While there, my children pointed out the large number of homeless people pandering on every corner. Because they were accustomed to us helping people, they wanted to know if we were going to help them all. 

I suddenly became aware of a terrible and real situation. There were so many people in need, I could give away everything I had and not actually make a real difference. Their needs would all still be there tomorrow, and in greater number than today. At the same time, doing so would also completely deplete us of every resource we had for our trip.

I asked the kids what would happen if I took all the money we had for our trip, for food and travel expenses, and just gave it away to everyone in need. We all agreed, it would cut our trip short, no one in the car would have the experience they wanted, and while it may do a little good, it wouldn’t actually help transform any of those people’s lives in the long run.

This is having a healthy boundary.

I acknowledge your need. And I acknowledge that I have needs and desires too. And those needs and desires are just as worthy of respect as yours.

We don’t have to constantly degrade ourselves, or subjectate oursevlves to the needs of others in an effort to ‘love.’  That type of love is NOT true love. That type of selflessness often leads to feelings of unhappiness and resentment. It leads to you missing out on the things you want for your life, while others squander the positive energy and resources you are offering.

Instead of trying to change the world, instead of directing that energy outward, you should direct it inward instead. Change the world by uplifting your own Self first.