In all honesty, I really didn’t want to write this one since it is so close to the “blast zone”, but here goes.
I have a hard time loving myself. There, I said it. I know what the Bible says:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 NIV
and “…’Love your neighbor as yourself'” – Matthew 22:39 NIV and all.
I understand from a practical standpoint that it’s pretty much impossible to love others and God if you don’t love yourself. But facts are good for quoting and on paper, however, despite what some people say a little “mind over matter” isn’t always as easy as it sounds. I mean it works for a little bit: you can trick yourself and others into believing that it’s what you truly believe, but at the end of the day if in your heart you don’t believe it, it hasn’t become a truth in your life, just another mask to wear.
I went off to a ministry school last year where one of my classes was about this subject. It was a constant theme with different conversations I heard throughout the year, whether directly or indirectly. My thinking was changed a lot in this area, but this isn’t the Wizard of Oz where I can just click my heels three times and everything’s peachy on the inside. [It’s been a battle to get to where I’ve gotten and to the next place as well.] Life is a journey and a process. Sometimes that heel-clicking works, but most of the time you have to be patient with yourself and God. Sometimes you change way faster than expected. That’s great! Relish those moments but know that just like gardening there are different types of seasons: some dry, some lush, and some ???
One way I have learned to love myself better was to combat the idea that I have to please everyone (e.i. I can’t let this leader down… I have to say yes whenever I’m asked to help…and so on.) It’s still an area I struggle in, but I have grown in it.
Loving yourself does not look like plowing down everyone else in our lives, nor does it look like letting the world run you over.
Most of us live in two extremes – the no-needs, people pleaser or the ever demanding, possibly arrogant person. Both are unhealthy. You have false humility and entitlement, in their different forms. Both are forms of pride in their own right.
I’ve been more of the no-needs, people pleaser. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, that looked like some of these:
- not liking to ask for help
- not admitting when I was feeling sick or suffering through it when it wasn’t necessary
- not feeling like I could speak up around those I considered superior to me (fellow peers I looked up to, or authority figures)
- denial of issues in areas of my life
None of that is healthy because stuff just builds up: offenses, bitterness, anger, etc. Mucho problemo. Then one day out of nowhere, you explode – Kaboom! And everyone’s confused.
“All I did was offer you a bag of chips, why are you yelling at me?”
“I don’t know!!!” After this same person was getting under your skin for the last 8 months. Yikes.
But it happens.
One way or another the ugly stuff we don’t deal with comes out. Maybe health issues, anger management problems, depression, or something else.
Being honest with yourself and others is a great way to halt some of this. I know that it’s hard to be honest with certain people (like bosses, or parents), but it’s still better than letting everything eventually blow up in your face, or you just learning to not care about anything.
For me, I kept silent about a lot of my emotions and feelings about this for years and I either had explosive moments, kept my feeling in the neutral to negative range, and became much more cynical (while still remaining somewhat idealist). Just last week I had let stuff build to the point where I was lashing out at two people who I’ve let get under my skin over the last few months. I just barely contained my irritation and anger with these people and lost my peace.
Through this experience though, I’m learning to value my own feelings and also realize that it’s okay for me to not put up with the non-sense of others and tell them, or at least hold better to my peace and patience and not allow them to have so much power over my feelings.
So for me right now, loving myself can simply look like being honest with myself and others and it’s a good starting place.