I went to a yoga class last week for breast cancer awareness. This woman, who I had seen KILLING IT at every yoga class, spoke at the beginning of class about her journey with breast cancer. And this event is what inspired me to write this. She told us how she learned self love from battling this awful illness. And you know what she didn’t say? She didn’t say how she learned to love her lack of hair from treatment or how she learned to love her body even though it was trying to kill her. She spoke of learning how to take care of herself and become stronger during one of the toughest times of her life. I saw this whole new confidence in her that I haven’t seen in many people. It was a self love that was not about vanity or self obsession, but about being the best version of herself that she could possibly, in more ways than just physical. I hope I never forget this woman and what she taught me from only one encounter.
One of the most powerful social movements right now is all about #selflove. It’s great! People, especially women, are learning how to love who they are, the bodies they live in, and have the confidence to scream it from the rooftops. One thing we even need more of in our current culture is empowering women to be themselves, be confident, and take control of their lives. BUT. And I hate that there has to be a “but.” BUT I’ve seen some negative side effects from this concept and even if no one agrees with me, I strongly feel the need to talk about it and make you think.
Self love is GOOD.
Love who you are. Love who God made you to be. Love posting selfies. Love your body. Love your smile. Love your personality. God did not make humans to hate themselves. We are made in His very own image, and we are supposed to love Him, so it would only make sense to love ourselves too. Self love is empowering, and confidence is a super important quality to have.
Self love is harmful.
Self love can lead to self obsession, which can lead to a dangerous cycle of self destruction. Self destruction isn’t always physical and it’s not always about mindset towards your own identity. Self love can push people away and make us believe that we don’t need other people in our lives, or don't deserve other people in our lives. We were made to enjoy community, and to REALLY enjoy relationships of all kinds. Self love can make us blind to things going on around us and in other people’s lives. And life is not meant to be lived obsessing about our appearance, our instagram likes, or how “cool” we are as people. One of the greatest joys in life is loving another person. Falling in love. Caring for your family. Doing things to make your best friend’s day.
What do I do?
If self love is both good and bad, what do you do? You celebrate who you are. You take joy in your appearance and personality. But you celebrate other people even more. You complement your friends. You love and care for the people that matter to you. You build people up. And you know what? When you put this kind of love and energy into other people, they will put the same amount of love and energy into you. In the end, everyone gets to reap the benefits of self love and loving others.
I hear this quote a lot, “Self love is not vanity, it’s sanity.” And it’s totally true… if you read it right. This quote should never be a defense for self love, but a comment about what sanity does to us. When we surround ourselves with positive people and energy, we will be confident in our identity and see ourselves just as God created us. Self love is not a starting point. It’s not how you get over tough times. It’s not something you can just decide. Self love comes from learning, making mistakes, and accepting the help and love of other people. After all, the self is primarily what’s in our minds and our hearts.
So love YOU. Take care of yourself. But love others too. Care for others too. Spread the love beyond yourself.
So my parting words are
Because I love you guys, but also I want YOU to love you.