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.