For many, loving themselves is associated with the infamous yet fascinating character in Greek Mythology, Narcissus.
Sadly, this is a misconception. A brief summary of this unimaginably good looking young man’s tale will tell us why.
As the son of the nymph Liriope and the river God Cephissus, Narcissus was a hunter. He was breathtakingly good looking and broke the hearts of many. His contempt and arrogance was shown to all those who were unfortunate to lose their heart to him.
One day, after he spurned yet one more poor soul with contempt, Nemesis, the Greek Goddess of recrimination and vengeance decided that he needed to be taught a lesson. One day as Narcissus looked into a pool of water, he was mesmerized by his handsome reflection. Unwittingly, he fell hopelessly in love with himself. Despite realizing the futility of his plight, he was smitten by his reflection. Pining away for his “love”, he eventually ended his wretched life.
As we can see, loving ourselves does not imply that we need to feel enamored of ourselves like Narcissus. It is merely respecting, caring and regarding ourselves the same way we regard others in our life. We only are in dangerous waters, if we find ourselves smitten with ourselves to the point that we are our sole obsession.
Similarly, the moment we associate our self worth with the perception that others (including our family and friends) have of us, we pave a sorry path of happiness destruction for ourselves. The loss of self worth not just affects our happiness, self confidence, self esteem but triggers a torrent of negative toxic emotions that would affect our existence and well being.
Loving ourselves for who we are is part of leading our life and just like our routines in the day, this is just part of our life – almost like the air we breathe. This is where the significance of appreciation and gratitude come in.
Our appreciation of the day, the air we breathe, the health and happiness we enjoy and those we know bask in, are all reasons to feel a sense of gratitude for our life. This appreciation can then transcend to who we are. We, with our natural imperfections (none of us are perfect) can begin to appreciate ourselves for what we are. After all, when we embrace people and the world for their imperfections, don’t we need to include ourselves in the list of who we accept?
Sleeping with gratitude and awakening to another day with gratitude is also a way of loving and accepting who we are. We are reflecting the joy of acceptance with our happiness and thankfulness.
In life, many a time we are sorely tempted to change people to who we want them to be. Acceptance of them as they are would be a first step in bringing us close to loving ourselves. Yes, the strange but true reason behind this is, if we need to see change, we need to confidently bring about changes in how we behave and react to situations and people. For that step, we need self-confidence and belief. This belief is only possible if you have self esteem, respect and love ourselves. In certain situations, we may find that the change in our behavior or attitude towards them or seeking external help for improving our relationship with them need not be the solutions. These circumstances are then to be considered from the perspective of well-being. Disengagement from the “toxic” relationship becomes a key for the emergence of your well-being.
For many, the satisfaction they derive from indulging in excessive eating or even shopping is merely an attempt to temporarily paralyze their deep discontent with themselves or situations they are in. The futility of these actions are seen when we realize that the temporary joy we experienced momentarily disappears soon after these actions are completed. These actions are not solving our distress or anxiety. Acceptance of the challenging situation and working on the solutions would be a healthy step in overcoming the feelings of unhappiness and anxiety and taking care of our happiness.
I believe today that the people in our life, whom we have interacted with or who are a part of our life are all teaching us what we are required to learn. They even teach us sometimes not to be what they have been to us. While taking action, keeping in mind the valuable learning we experienced from meeting with these people and the experiences they have provided us in our life would also help us become better members of society. Our willingness to learn from our positive and undesirable interactions with people is yet another way we reflect our respect and care for our well being.
Many carry an irrational of loving themselves purely due to the fear of being seen or termed as a self smitten Narcissus.
The irony of the fact is loving ourselves to the point of obsession is completely different from the healthy love and respect each of us need to have for ourselves.
It is this regard for ourselves that helps us to push the boundaries of our potential. While aiming for achieving the best for ourselves, we will enjoy permeating the fragrance of improvement in our environment and others’ lives too.