Love of self

The concept of self love is very interesting. How often I have heard people say, ‘to love oneself is selfish‘, ‘it means caring about another less‘. I understand these musings and positions, but I ask a question…if we do not or cannot love ourselves, how can we know to love another? Our lives are borne out of experience and the only experience we can know is our own. It is the lens through which we comprehend, assess, engage with, find our place in the world. It through ourselves that we have a great capacity and depth of love. We are the channe through which a knowing love emerges and is sustained.

Empathy’s definition is ‘the ability to identify with and understand somebody else’s feelings‘. How are we to have any gauge another’s feelings if we cannot know and name them within our own experience? Empathy is a significant feature in making connection with another person. It is how we can know each other. It is the basis of our interdependence which is expressed in the oscillation between giving and receiving in many ways.

I am fascinated with the interaction and the dynamic between care giving and care seeking that exists in each of us. Are we more comfortable giving care than seeking it or is the reverse true? Are they balanced? How do we know when we need care?

For me it comes to this point-can I feel anchored enough in love of myself, so I can take a risk? Whilst it is often misconstrued as narcissism or arrogance, loving ourselves in our beauty and our flaws is a journey for many of us. A journey worth taking. I love the idea that if we allow ourselves to love ourselves we may be in a position to risk more. We have enough solidity in ourselves to speak from within, not tempering our interaction based on what we believe will be a reaction from the other. This allows us to take a risk, to reach beyond our safety zone and know that I am a person meeting another person. Simultaneously there is separation and connection.

I have a very real sense that it is through love we live. Everything else- the material, ambition, competition, running and racing is not a true expression of life. They lack the deep and nourishing warmth that the giving and receiving of love creates. This love comes from within and can reach the intimate as much as the strange. Time to cultivate a deep love and compassion of self that can facilitate a very real and wonderful experience of life.

The poem Begin by Brendan Kennelly captures some of what I am aiming to express. This is an extract:

Begin again to the summoning birds
to the sight of light at the window,
begin to the road of morning traffic
all along Pembroke Road.
every beginning is a promise
born in light and dying in dark
determination and exaltation of springtime
flowering the way to work.

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