The Darker Side of Self-Love
Updated: May 21
As a concept, the idea of self-love is a difficult one to deny.
I think we can agree that self-loathing is not a healthy alternative.
But to me, self-love, or at least how it’s come to be understood is a tricky one.
I’ve always understood Love as a much broader concept.
Not confined to ones self or to others, but rather as all encompassing
You either have Love, live with Love and in Love, or you live devoid of it.
As Rumi, the great Sufi poet once wrote,
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
And herein lies the point.
Love in and of itself is not something to be pursued, because the source of life itself is Love.
It’s your default,
It's the state you rise to, when you finally surrender to it
Breaking down the barriers you have built against, all of which usually resides in your ego.
So the concept of self-love, misunderstood, has a darker side.
A tendency to spill over into narcissism, selfishness, pride and egocentrism
Putting oneself at the centre of the universe, not for the sake of others, but often at the expense of them.
Separating your self from the world and isolating Love, limiting it only to how it may relate to you.
It's like trying to contain it in a bottle,
Not possible and somewhat misguided.
Dissolving the ego, letting go of insecurities and inhibitions – in and of itself is a kind of self-love, an emptying, a breaking down of the barriers.
It’s almost a pre-requisite, because you simply leave no room for Love if you’re full of all the other stuff, occupying your mind, your body, your attention, your time.
Knowing your worth is one thing, but understanding your inherent value in this divine creation we live in is really the epitome.
The deep understanding that you actually matter.
But this value, this worth, these gifts that you’ve been given, your unique talents, also come with a set of responsibilities.
Responsibilities to your self and responsibility to others
And this inevitably brings a sacrificial element to Love that’s difficult to ignore
“Greater Love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends..” - goes the passage.
And I find some embedded truth in that.
Because ultimate Love is not a feeling, but an expression, a decision, an action
And yes, Love expressed, may indeed come at the expense of your own needs at times and guess what, that's totally O.K.
I guess the secret is to find those things that are worth sacrificing for,
Because that’s where meaning resides.
So know that you are precious and don’t go wasting your self away
Know that your life has value; so don’t go wasting your life away
Know that your Love is worthy; so don’t go wasting your Love away
Know that your time is invaluable; so don’t go wasting your time away
You don’t just owe it to the rest of us, you owe it to yourself
There is no greater expression of self-love than this,
Project that outwardly into the world, and stop this talk of self-love, instead, just be Love.