Are You Practicing Self-Love or Suppression?
LOL! Sure Jan.
After publishing What No One Tells You About Self-Awareness, I received good feedback and some great suggestions for later posts. I had the opportunity to have rich discussions around religion, relationships, and what it means to take authentic action not only to improve your own life, but also impact the lives of those around you. One chat in particular was centered around the concept of self-love and what practicing it really means.
So what's self-love?
the instinct by which one's actions are directed to the promotion of one's own welfare or well-being, especially an excessive regard for one's own advantage.
- Conceit; vanity.
When I began writing this entry, I had no plans to include definitions (2) or (3) because I intended to tackle this using a strict well-being approach. But of course, the mercury in my mercurial just had to get all introspective. I figured you guise wouldn't mind the shift in direction considering there are plenty of self-love tips on the web for one to gorge themselves on.
While musing on self-love, I found myself reviewing some of my own habits and began to question how much of our ideas regarding this concept are really about health, growth, and improving our condition, or is self-love being confused with feeling better in, or getting to, the next moment. In other words, are you engaging in conduct to change your mood, detach, and (or) suppress, or are you objectively examining yourself (not others) and your choices, to better your reality?
Frank Ocean - Novacane (video)
I want you to take a moment to reflect on the type of self love that you practice regularly; choose only one from definitions 1, 2, or 3. I predict that many of you will say (1) and I wonder if that will remain true by the time you reach the end of this post.
So what do I think about self-love?
The way in which I regard self-love now is definitely different than I did before; especially after writing this. As a caveat, please don't take what I say as an indication that I know anything about anything, have achieved nirvana, or my evolutionary process is rock solid.
I on't know NATHAN.
Trust me, I still get it wrong. However, I do my best to improve. I'm a person who will share my faults even at risk of them being used against me, not act as if I'm incapable of verbalizing them. I also recognize and embrace that I still have a lot to learn. While most do understand that goes without saying, I have learned to be very conscious of those who might perceive my particular style of writing or expression as implying perfection or having it all figured out.
I'm not and I don't.
So just to be safe, don't be like me kids. I'm wack lol (see below Disclaimer).
Now where were we? Ah, what do I think about self-love.
I don't view self love as frozen in time or restricted to a stage in one's life. Self-love isn't selling positivity, changing your profile pic to random quotes to convince yourself you're practicing it, cutting people off, or simply reading a bible. Self-love to me requires *dun dun dun* ...
Self-love means being self-aware enough to honestly assess the state of your well-being.
What's the meaning of well-being?
a good or satisfactory condition of existence; a state characterized by health, happiness, and prosperity; welfare.
That seems pretty innocuous until you return to the definition of self-love (1) and consider that along with the one of well being. Self-love is an instinct that seemingly requires our actions be directed to maintaining an ongoing healthy existence. Self-love can be practicing how not to be a victim or perpetrator, how to accept responsibility and apologize, how to not shift blame or be toxic, how to not condescend or be stubborn, how to not look for the negatives, be a doormat, bad listener, or lack compassion. Self-love can be admitting that you need help from someone more experienced than you, like regularly seeing a therapist. Personally, as I am sure I have stated before, I'm a big supporter of therapy and think everyone needs it. But back to the point, self-love is not an excuse to avoid looking in the mirror and that may mean having to say a couple of mean things to yourself Jan.
If our actions aren't committed or directed to maintaining an ongoing healthy existence, the end result is likely "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
Now what does this have to do with suppression?
Well, what happens when you suppress? The feelings, behaviors, thoughts, patterns, situations, outcomes, or etc., return in some way shape or form. If we're truly focused on our well-being, either the good or not so good parts of ourselves, you would think some of these issues wouldn't resurface because instead of circumventing them indefinitely, we have grown. But if we are avoiding them, could it be that we are attempting to maintain some type of status quo consistent with our own perspective which sounds less like self-love (1), and a lot like the self-centered variety of self-love, (2) or narcissism (3).
So, if you will, please answer the following:
- Have you noticed repeated themes, outcomes, statements, or etc., occurring after you practice self love?
- Which definition of self love did you choose earlier, and did it change?
- If so, why do you think?
If you would like a bit more context to consider, I invite you to take a moment to read "Is Self-Love Healthy or Narcissistic?" by Tara Well, Ph.D., on Psychology Today.