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Self-Love or Selfish

 “If you have the ability to love, love yourself first”

                                                                               -Charles Bukowski


Learning about love, particularly self-love, from a person like Bukowski might seem overwhelming for our tender hearts. However, isn't he right? Imagine having the ability to feel, express, and nurture the most powerful emotion the human heart can experience—an emotion that can perform wonders, change societies, soften rigid hearts, stop wars, start wars, turn a madman into a poet and a poet into a madman. Now, imagine utilizing all that strength on yourself, all the strength that can make you stand out among 7 BILLION people! It's the strength that can make your curves seem sexy, your frizz feel like a Bollywood actress's hair from the 90s, your limited knowledge seem like a blessing, and your FOMO feel like an opportunity to catch up on another of Plath's books. Why waste all that on someone else?

Self-Love or Selfish

Self-love and selfishness—two terms that seem worlds apart but are deeply connected by a common thread: the self. Growing up, we're taught not to talk too much about ourselves, yet ironically, we’re given assignments titled "MYSELF." We're encouraged to constantly better ourselves while also being told to embrace who we are. This mixed messaging creates a dilemma, making us choose what's convenient at the moment, which is understandable in our complex world. But, as the wise often say, too much of anything is bad. In our quest to prioritize ourselves, we sometimes tiptoe into narcissism and egomania.

Here’s where the real difference lies: thinking about ourselves versus thinking only about ourselves. This subtle distinction often goes unnoticed. True self-love doesn't mean sacrificing ourselves for others, but it dangerously morphs into selfishness when we start sacrificing others for our own gain. And that, my friend, is where everything changes.

Navigating this fine line is tricky. We’re all guilty of sometimes drifting too far into self-obsession. But recognizing when we've crossed that line is crucial. Self-love should uplift and empower us without diminishing the worth of those around us. So let's be mindful, cherish ourselves, and remember that loving ourselves shouldn't mean forgetting about everyone else.

Listening to influencers, we often adopt their language of self-love, forgetting that each perspective stems from specific incidents in their lives. Self-love can mean something different for each person because we all have unique ways of taking care of ourselves. For some, self-love means having a high regard for their own well-being and happiness, prioritizing their needs, and not sacrificing their well-being to please others or settling for less than they deserve. For others, it might mean helping others and making adjustments to maintain relationships, embracing the people around them no matter what.

Watching influencers, getting inspired by others, reading self-help books, and seeking constructive feedback by considering others’ perspectives can help us avoid selfish behavior while maintaining self-love. However, we should always remember that these resources are merely guides to discovering our own ways of embracing our souls.

Self-love is a journey, a process, and like most journeys, it's not meant to be undertaken alone. Self-love isn't about showbiz; it's a conscious meditation. Every day you wake up, you find new ways to love yourself, and throughout that journey, you must be as compassionate as possible.

Relying on artificial means for self-love—buying expensive products, thinking "maybe changing my body will make me love myself," or "maybe if my hair were a little shorter, I would love myself"—will only lead to not recognizing who you truly are. True self-love comes from within, not from external changes.

Accepting our past and learning from it, living in our present and finding contentment in it, and hoping for a peaceful and hopeful future while working toward it—these are all small steps of self-love. It's not about showbiz; it's a conscious meditation.

Acts done in the hope of being loved or accepted by others, or imitating someone else’s life in the hope of feeling fulfilled, are exterior and artificial. True healing requires a soft touch of love, free from the pressure of choice and abandonment. You need to know what you want, not what you want to show.


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