The self love epidemic has hit us pretty hard over the last decade and is becoming more of an excuse for narcissism with every passing day. Self love and self care are two completely different things, and self love has become the problem child of the two. In an effort to differentiate I have taken the liberty to shed some light on the issue from where I stand.
The way I see it, self care is caring for your own well being on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. It is making sure that you nourish your body, stay hydrated, and get enough physical activity as well as enough rest. It is having enough common sense to avoid dangerous situations and intuition to make good decisions in life. It is continuous learning from mistakes and life in general so as to eventually gain independence and not rely on others for things that you could handle on your own.
Self love on the other hand is a mindset of accepting and loving yourself exactly the way you are, sometimes so overtly that character flaws, bad decisions and even health problems often get overlooked and ignored. People who love themselves often lack authenticity and humility. They have an overly inflated sense of self importance and need constant attention in order to feel validated. This is a very destructive problem that will hold anyone back if they aren’t careful.
Self love can also be a gateway to narcissism and the development of tunnel vision, which makes shifting your focus onto others pretty difficult. So many people in our society are desperately seeking to be seen and heard most of the time, whether it be by radically pushing their opinions onto others or just way too much self promotion, this behavior is not a reflection of a person who would consider every other person to be of equal importance. So how do we combat this?
be a contributor, not just a consumer
There will always be people who are self absorbed, who take more than they give, expect to be catered to and never express appreciation because their world revolves around them and they believe that yours should too. We can’t change these people, but we can lead by example with our actions and attitudes, simply by being decent people.
In case you are unaware or just overwhelmed at the thought of this being way too difficult, let me assure you that being a decent person really just consists of being kind to others, helping out where you can, not purposefully causing trouble, not seeking revenge, forgiving people whenever they make mistakes even if they aren’t sorry, and considering how your words and actions not only effect individuals directly but can have a huge ripple effect and impact every single life connected to that individual as well. Being a good person involves consistent self evaluation and correction. It takes time and patience and the ability to adapt to whatever circumstances life puts you in.
When you are able to step outside of yourself and take notice of others you very quickly become grounded, which in turn gives you the ability to do more for the benefit of others without even being prompted. This is one of the best ways to make yourself small and shift your focus onto more important things.
I am fortunate enough to work for a company that is very involved in community service projects, utilizing time and financial resources to give back, which is always a rewarding experience to be a part of. However, with these opportunities being presented frequently and only requiring minimal effort on my end I always end up feeling obligated to do more.
Contrary to popular acceptance of the idea that those of us who live paycheck to paycheck don’t have enough time or money to put toward a single thing outside of our own livelihoods, I don’t consider this to be true. The simple fact that I am not living in poverty, not spending every penny on mandatory living expenses or every waking moment working proves that I can do more, and you probably can too. If you have time to post a selfie on Instagram, you have time to hold the door for someone, and if you have money to purchase a latte, you have money to donate to a charitable cause. Speaking of charitable causes, here are a few great ones:
In a perfect world, we would be able to drop everything and become full time philanthropists, but since that isn’t plausible I would like to encourage everyone this holiday season and every season following to love and do more for others in any way that you can and as often as possible.