Saturday, December 5, 2009

Love thy neighbor as thyself

Everyone loves themselves best, don't they? Not really. Many of us Earthlings are swimming in insecurity and self-loathing most of the time.

"Love thy neighbor as thyself..." Perhaps Jesus (or his ghost writer) assumed that most people naturally had a high self-esteem. Or perhaps, this teaching is much more profound than initially meets the eye. To love one's neighbor, one must first love himself. I know what you're thinking... you've heard that so much, it's practically cliche. But I heard it with different ears today.

I am reading Mary O'Malley's awesome book, The Gift of Our Compulsions: A Revolutionary Approach to Self-Acceptance and Healing. If you have ever wrestled with eating as if fighting a mortal enemy at any point on your raw journey, I highly encourage you to read this book. It is helping me! Today I read and reread the chapter on "Loving Yourself from the Inside Out." This quote hit me right between the eyes,

"Trying to be different from or better than what you are in order to be okay will never work, for it is based on the belief that you are not okay right now."

But what if my trying is important? I think to myself. I need to be better, healthier, more moral, more successful. I have to. I can't love myself until I am worthy...

Uh, who said that?

I realized that in the past, my attempts at self-love weren't real. They were strategies. They were tricks I was trying in order to convince myself to do the things I thought I had to do in order to be worthy of my own love. Whoa!

Then I got scared. Well, if I don't have that motivation, those moralistic judgements about myself, then won't I just turn into a fat lazy selfish slob who does nothing but eat chocolate and watch bad reality t.v.?

Well, let's look at the results of my strategy. Years of struggle and pain and poor health. Hey, I still eat a lot of chocolate and watch a lot of bad reality t.v. Hmm...

What if I just accepted and loved myself as I was, with no agenda? If I just loved myself and had no demands or conditions on that love, wouldn't I eventually start choosing things that would be gifts to myself. I would choose health because it feels good. I would choose exercise because it feels good. I would choose the yummiest food (cuz really, it is. Trust me, after you leave your favorite junk food behind for a few months and then try it again, it really ain't that great. In my experience anyway.)

But the most important lesson is perhaps that if I do not love myself, then I have wasted my chance here on Earth to give to others.

9 comments:

Sarah said...

I've often thought of this command myself. It actually brought comfort to me when I realized my first marriage was a failure. I accepted that it wasn't because I was unlovable. It was because my first husband couldn't truly give love.

Learning to love and accept ourselves just as we are is a huge challenge, but it's so worth it in the end. You're right to state that we can't give to others until we learn to love ourselves.

Love is a birthright. We ALL deserve love from the moment we're conceived. We don't have to do anything to earn it. True love isn't earned. True love is unconditional. I believe loving ourselves and others right where we are will bring the positive change we're looking for. I often think that if everyone was given unconditional love from the beginning and taught how to love themselves, then we would live in a perfect world.

Love and hugs to you,
Sarah

Greenmama said...

Thank you, Sarah! Well-put.

I love how you said "Love is a birthright..."

Marjorie

Tina said...

That is very true. If you feel like you don't deserve to be loved - you will not love yourself

And when you don't love yourself, you don't treat yourself right, it's a vicious circle.

Beautiful post xx

Tina said...

That is very true. If you feel like you don't deserve to be loved - you will not love yourself

And when you don't love yourself, you don't treat yourself right, it's a vicious circle.

Beautiful post xx

Connie said...

Thanks Marjorie. I struggle with this daily. I want so desperately to be loving and accepting of myself and others but keep finding all these conditions and requirements getting in my way. If everyone, myself included, could just do a little better for a little longer I'm sure I would like myself and everyone else much better. =P

I know every word you wrote is true and I am trying to make it true for me. It would be so much easier if only I had more willpower and did not like fast food so much and if only my kids cooperated with me and each other more and... lol!

Love & Sunshine!
Connie

PS I am really, really glad you are back! =D

Greenmama said...

Hi Tina,

Welcome and thanks for your comment.

Connie,

I know you are kidding but that really is what my inner voice sounds like. LOL! Willpower... Double LOL!

Marjorie

Connie said...

mine too marjorie :)

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Anonymous said...

I have been struggling with trying to Love myself, and then I heard a sermon on Self-Centeredness and realized that; If I don't Love myself as God Loves me, I am dueling on myself too much. I am learning to stop worrying about how much I Love myself and worry about how much I Love others.
Larry