If you're reading any books or articles or listening to any t.v. or radio, then surely you've picked up on a new wave in popular psychology that focuses on self love. Actually, I'm not sure that it's even all that new, but it seems like I'm seeing more and more of the undertones of this philosophy all over the place. My perception of this line of thought is that it's all about making yourself happy first, because if you're happy, then the overflow of your life will be positive. Does that have anyone else seeing red flags besides me?
Last week I flipped on Oprah and listened as she explained that her new goal was to focus on learning to love herself. The show was about a recent personal slump she had been through, both with her weight and her overall well being, and her explanation for the struggle was that she had forgotten to love herself. Oprah talked about how she had gotten so busy, she had not made time to make herself a priority, and everything had taken a downward spiral because of it. She is now advocating that everyone take time to love themselves first, believing that without taking time to love yourself, your quality of life will suffer as a result. Nothing she said was bad, and just for the record I am not an Oprah hater, but there was something about the verbiage used that didn't sit right with me.
I know that's just one venue, but the plainness with which the "love yourself" message was spread made me do some thinking. The thing that is so hard for me to swallow with this line of thought is the fact that we are born completely, totally, 100% selfish beings. It seems to me like the thing we spend our entire life learning is how to love others as we love ourselves, not vice versa. I don't know about you, but I haven't had a whole lot of trouble thinking of myself first, making decisions based on what I want, and all around doing some lovin' on myself before anyone else. Self love comes very naturally, demonstrating itself in almost all of our decisions and actions—just look at the divorce rate, for goodness sakes! When it comes down to it, a selfless act is the rarity, with the selfish, self-pleasing things we do far outweighing the others.
I know what Oprah meant when she said that she needed to take time for herself so that the rest of her life would benefit. I agree with that, because I believe we all need balance and that includes time for taking care of ourselves and renewing, even in the midst of a busy schedule. I get that. I guess I just wouldn't take it to the same level.
To me, the basic flaw in the "love yourself" philosophy is its inability to bring any real fulfillment our inner peace to our lives. I get the idea that it's message is all about bringing fulfillment to ourselves, by reaching inside, and digging deep to find that what we need is really inside us all along. And that just amounts to baloney to me.
This is what I think: I believe that the key to unlocking happiness and fulfillment is not learning to love ourselves, but learning to accept and bask in how much God loves us. It's His love that gives us worth, and it's His love that brings meaning to us and what we do. When we realize how important we are to Him, that will trickle down and effect every other aspect of our life. We will take the time to take care of ourselves, and we will also be secure enough in that love to reach out and love those around us. Understanding and living in God's love is something I do very imperfectly, but I truly believe that it is the key.
You can search the Bible and find hundreds of verses about God's love for us. You can find verses commanding us to love each other. But you aren't going to find much about focusing on loving yourself. It's a dead end road, because we are not the source of love. God is. We cannot generate love on our own, but we learn what true love looks like by seeing how God has demonstrated it on us.
So, what do you think? Can you see anything good that springs from the self-love message? Do you see the fingerprints of this philosophy everywhere you look? I'd love to know!