By Archeila R Walker
It’s a true statement to say that we were all born selfish. But it’s not a true statement to say that we all were born with the understanding of self-love. In fact, most of us are not aware of just how much we don’t love ourselves until we’ve experienced negative encounters with other people. Is it possible for a person to be selfish and not love who they are? Most definitely! Today, you see a lot of people that proclaim to have self-love, when in fact what you really see are people that have had a growth spur in selfishness.
Webster’s dictionary defines selfishness as “concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself; seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.” Webster’s also defines love as “an unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another; as (1) the fatherly concern of God for humankind, (2) brotherly concern for others. ” Though many equate selfishness with self-love, by these definitions, clearly you can see that they are not!
Learning how to love and accept yourself means taking away all the conditions and mental limitations that would cause you to believe that you don’t deserve to be loved or accepted. It may also require you to end unhealthy relationships that will perpetuate feelings of unworthiness and hopelessness. In general, you will have to evaluate those experiences both past and present to help you understand what may have prohibited you from developing in this area of your life. Were you the product of a single parent home? Were you abused mentally, physically or sexually as a child? Were you bullied and humiliated before classmates in school? It’s these types of experiences that will develop as a root in a person’s life which ultimately bears fruits of selfishness, drug and alcohol addictions, and sexual misconduct.
The first step in learning how to love and accept yourself is to forgive yourself and others for what may have caused a lifetime of pain. Forgiveness is so important because this is where your freedom resides! Your freedom from hurt and pain lies in your ability to forgive those that have hurt you in any fashion. If you allow un-forgiveness to harbor in your heart, you also allow bitterness and brokenness to live there as well. You must forgive others and also forgive yourself to move forward.
The second step is to observe your actions and reactions concerning life situations. You must learn to be aware of the why behind every decision you make concerning your life. We don’t realize most of the time that what we do and how we react to life circumstances says a lot about how we feel about ourselves. Our decisions can shape our views of self and can block our development of self-love. Decisions can be both conscious and sub-conscious. We usually know why we are making a conscious decision to do something, therefore; it’s the sub-conscious decisions that get us into trouble. This is why it is important to evaluate the why behind EVERY decision so you can become more aware of your reasonings.
The third step is to understand that you are unique! There will never be anyone like you in all the years to come! There is something special about you and there is a reason and purpose for why God created you. You have a unique plan purposed for YOUR life. So many times we judge and compare ourselves to other people and this is a dishonor to you. There are certain things you were graced to do and other things you were not graced to do. When we try to cross over into areas that are not our gifts, this can cause a deep sense of dislike towards yourself because you feel that something is wrong with you. Stay in your lane! Don’t try to do things that you know you don’t have the grace to do.
Developing self-love and acceptance can be a lifelong process for many. But it doesn’t have to be if you can identify those areas in your life that continually keep you from personal growth and make peace with them. Decide today that you will learn to love and accept who you are, regardless of your past. Your past can be a great teacher or it can be a memoir of pain and mistakes that often revisits you leaving feelings of inadequacy. You’re more than that! You just have to start believing that you are!