Wednesday, July 15, 2009

love yourself

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!

8 comments:

sarahdodson said...

Excellent post. My mom always says that we need Christ esteem, not self-esteem. When the esteem's in the right place, everything else will fall quite nicely.

katherine said...

Totally. Dealing with this philosophy is one of my biggest struggles as a teacher. Most kids naturally "self-love" in that they look out for themselves. Add to that a parenting philosophy that gives children whatever they "want" and you've got a handful on your hands. It's not right. It's important to feel loved and set personal boundries, but it is not the end all, be all. THat's why God has given us guidelines as to how we should live. HE knows what is good for us!

Adam & Amy Wilson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tiff said...

This was such a great post, Angie.. I completely agree with ya!! So when are you writing a book,huh???.. It would be a best seller, ya know!:)

Penny said...

I think what you think! I agree with Katherine, too. As a teacher I see kids struggle from being indulged too often. Also, there IS such a thing as too much praise and kids that are insincerely praised too often are the most insecure! When they're told that every "scribble" is beautiful and a masterpiece worthy of a magnet, they never learn how to handle disappointment. Their ability to take pride in doing well is affected. A little priming of their self-esteem can help make a child feel good about who they are, confident in their abilities, thus helping them become capable, independent adults. Too much pumping of "me, me, me" can turn them into vain, selfish, self-centered brats. Notice how many times "self-"esteem and "self" are interrelated.
Great post. =)

Megan said...

I agree with you. Look at Jesus' first and second commandments. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and the second is likewise; love your neighbor as you love yourself." Jesus didn't have to tell us to love ourselves. That is in our nature. Instead, we are to focus on loving God and loving others and in doing so will be obeying His commands.

Karen said...

Angie,

I agree with you.

I would also love your opinions on some questions I have been dealing with after the death of a little 8-year-old boy who fought cancer for half his life. Basically, my question is about why God tells us if we pray in His name, He will give us the desires of our heart and if we have faith like a mustard seed we can move mountains. I would love to send you the e-mail I sent to some trusted friends, because I highly respect your opinions.

I couldn't find your e-mail on the site. If you would like, you can e-mail me at kl_elliott@yahoo.com and I will send you the e-mail. It gives the background as to why I am asking these questions.

Anonymous said...

Angie, sweetie... I have to say, this is all just another sign of the times. One step closer to the second coming.

As far as the self indulgent children go... There are always two extremes... and to avoid abuse many parents go to the other extreme. not saying its right, or giving an excuse. It is just the way I see it.