‘Love’, yes, love!
What comes to your mind at the mention of this word? What came to your mind when you just read it? Possibly, it filled you with a sense of hope, maybe made some of you shy or indifferent. Well, generalizing an answer to this is a tedious task, since love is an emotion which some wear on their sleeves while others disguise. Emotions have no definition; they can only be felt. And love is an emotion that all of us yearn for, at least once in their lifetime.
For generations, the concept of ‘love’ involved the presence of another one. After all, only then did it give a sense of being the most sought after emotion in the world. This feeling can be for another person, animal, object, place or even a memory. Religious scriptures on loving our parents, children, family, God and innumerable tales of romance have paved the way for this ultimate, unchangeable definition of love.
“I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.”
-Charles Dickens (Great Expectations)
“I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.”
-Pablo Neruda (Twenty Love Poems And A Song Of Despair)
“He was my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday rest.”
-W. H. Auden (Stop All The Clocks)
“What I want is to be needed. What I need is to be indispensable to somebody.”
-Chuck Palahniuk (Choke)
“In case you ever foolishly forget: I am never not thinking of you.”
-Virginia Woolf (Selected Diaries)
It is no wonder then that the youth of every generation has always sought to find love in the form of another person or a thing. Not to forget, societal norms have only fueled this quest. Also, it will not be wrong to say that this quest is more rigorous in the present scenario. Like an absolute necessity, almost everyone has become desperate to find love.
Finding love is not a sin, not at all. But when it is done at the cost of self-love, despair or as a means to achieve a status in the eyes of society, it becomes a sin. It violates the very meaning of love.
Over the past few decades, emphasis on self-love has been doing the rounds. Thanks to today’s fast-paced life, where cases of mental breakdown have only increased, it is essential to take care of ourselves. It is saddening that the world started acknowledging this only after people began losing themselves to depression and anxiety. However, what is more saddening is that most people still find self-care and self-love selfish. After all, the prefix ‘self’ looks good only in words that show your ability: self-reliance, self-dependence, self-sufficient, self-esteem etc. and why not? We have been taught to talk about our capabilities. So it’s okay; you aren’t to blame.
Self-love is not selfish. It is a process of being in love with thyself; accepting your natural self, recognizing your passion and dreams; acknowledging your capabilities and abilities; not lamenting over inabilities, instead embracing, nurturing and working upon them to the best of your abilities. And doing everything that helps you grow mentally and emotionally. All this becomes possible when you let yourself unwind and give yourself the time to understand yourself better. Unwinding doesn’t just mean relaxing; it refers to exploring different things and letting yourself go! The whole process of self-love is akin to the process of raising a healthy baby. The only difference here is that the mother and the baby are the same people, and it is up to you to take care of your raw, unheard soul.
Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It is sanity
Self-love is crucial for perpetual peace and sense of fulfilment. As an individual, we might seem to have figured our lives out, by acquiring degrees, getting highly paid job or marrying the love of our life, however, all this is in vain if we can’t figure ourselves out first. This includes not knowing what makes you happy from within, what makes you excited, what makes you unhappy. And that is why it is often said, love yourself first, only then can you truly love someone else because it is then that you understand what maketh you. Loving yourself helps you recognize your passion, which propels you forward to work hard and accomplish your dreams. It also draws away nebulous thoughts and gives you a sense of self-esteem and self-respect. If we love ourselves, talking to oneself can resolve most of our problems by introspection.
Self-love does not mean doing anything you wish to in the name of self-exploration. Mark the words, self-love is harmless both to oneself and others. Love beyond control is madness, and this is where self-love takes the ugly form of narcissism. To love yourself means to feel good about yourself, which leads to doing good to those around you. Undisturbed with all the negativity in the world, you now have the confidence and courage to see through any problem; you believe in yourself and don’t belittle yourself nor others.
You make yourself a priority and take good care of your health. A new unfazed clarity reigns your mind, which helps you tap into your mind’s resources and realise your dreams. You are aware of your identity and existence, and no power of the universe can detach you from yourself. Your first love is you. You care for yourself like a mother for her baby. You are the baby and the mother. You discover your inner voice and help others in doing the same. This is self-love, if not this then, believe me, you are on the wrong track.
To reap the wondrous benefits of self-love, one should start early. Childhood is the best time to unravel. Let your children do what interests them, make them aware of their own identity by encouraging them to take time out for things they love to do as long as it’s constructive and healthy. As we grow older, family responsibilities and jobs leave us with no ‘me-time’. However, try doing things, say, playing an instrument, storytelling, writing, or whatever satisfies you at least once a week. Exercise and make a habit of eating healthy food regularly. Make yourself a priority!
Self-love is not selfish; those who have loved themselves truly, have found bliss in everything in this world. Self-love is not a favour. It’s a necessity to keep oneself sane. Self-love is a means to discover your soul; the soul which keeps you on your toes till its reflection is fully realized in the form of inner happiness and peace. In this fast-paced life, it’s okay to forget yourself sometimes but remember you are always going to be with yourself, so take a great deal to care for it. You would not find out your superpowers until you have loved yourself. Each of us is a gifted soul, and it is up to us to unravel it.
Love yourself unconditionally, be your first love.