But we cannot love a false self. We are more than mannequins dressed by another’s intentions. We have to know who we are–for Real.
Loving oneself begins with digging deep to be honest about who we are and what we do. Digging deep to discover the things we are good at, and loving those things about ourselves. Digging deep to discover our faults, our flaws, and doing something about those so that we can love ourselves. Because love is not just a word, it is always action.
When Jesus talked about the greatest commandment of all, He quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 and said we are to love God with all our heart. But He also added the second greatest commandment: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. God wants us to love ourselves, the way He created us to be.
Oddly, or maybe miraculously, the way to honestly loving ourselves is by loving others. How many times have you felt a certain excitement over what you’ve done for another–a word of encouragement, an act of mercy, a simple gift to another of something he/she desperately needs?
Conversely, don’t we feel disheartened when we try to be only what another wants us to be–especially if what another wants us to be goes against our moral code? That’s the failure to love ourselves, that’s being untrue to the core of who we are.
If we want to be happy, we must realize that God loves us terribly, and because He does, we can love ourselves, too–enough that we want to be worthy of His divine love. As it always does, God’s love calls us to action.
There is a story, “Bluebird of Happiness,” in my new collection, Birds of a Feather, in which a physician misuses his profession in an attempt to keep peace with his controlling wife. He puts that misguided peace above being true to his own moral core. Of course, he is unhappy with himself, with his life, and with his wife.
I think many of us do something like this only to please others, or to keep some tranquility. But it does not make us happy. Loving yourself in the right way is what will actually make you happy.
Taking to heart other people’s opinions of us as if they were Truth, though sometimes those opinions may flatter us, as well as put us down. is not the way to the joy of knowing and loving ourselves.
So let’s take some time out to discover what we’re good at, or what we’d like to be better at. Take off any false image we have of ourselves that someone else may have thrown upon us. Then we will find the goodness within us that it takes to love ourselves, and because of that goodness, we will love others.
Copyright 2014, Kaye Hinckley