Sunday, July 14, 2013

Lessons and Thoughts on Self Worth and Self Ish

I have such mixed feelings on the topic of self love. I suppose it's due to the many different ways people can love themselves. And the plethora of things which "love" has become the label for. I'm just going to touch on my thoughts on these topics, because there are so many rabbit trails and tangents I can (and will) go on in thinking about these things.

Lately I've become more aware of some fabulous people sharing positive and encouraging messages:
There's More Love Letters, through which people send each other (and total) strangers sweet notes and letters to bring joy to the lives of others.
Lionhart is passionate about showing others their inherent worth and helping people see their value.
Then there's So Worth Loving, emphasizing that you (no matter who "you" are) are worth loving regardless of your flaws or past, and encouraging people to see that their dreams are worth pursuing.

There are many other amazing organizations and individuals out there spreading the news of a positive self esteem and self love (To Write Love On Her ArmsGala Darling-Radical Self Love Project, and Good Women Project to name a few). They're all excellent and have wonderful lessons that all of us can learn from about being the best we can be while learning to love ourselves.

I've personally become a bit passionate about the above organizations because I have seen so many people hurting from a low self perception. A good friend of mine last year was a hard person to love because she refused to love herself. A person I dated made some hurtful choices because he didn't see that he's a better man than he thought he was. I've sat with friends who cried because they saw themselves as ugly, too thin, or too fat. Other friends simply got used to perceiving themselves as lazy, and thus became lazy in their habits. I once made a comment offhandedly to a friend: "I'll never be able to do ____." and he said "Yeah, probably not with that attitude."

So it's recently become very important for me to encourage people to see the wonderful things about themselves, because many people don't realize how truly amazing they really are.

[Disclaimer, what I'm about to say might-probably will-offend some people and is not intended to be applied to all circumstances. It's an observation from my life that I feel is legitimate.]

However, in the midst of so many people with exceptionally low views of themselves, there's an almost absurd amount of selfishness. Selfishness involves paying attention to yourself and your own welfare while disregarding that of others.

It seems that if we stopped focusing so much on ourselves then we wouldn't have time to consider whether we really like certain things about ourselves. If we genuinely focus on others more, perhaps we will stop comparing ourselves to them or at least lessen our propensity to think of ourselves as less awesome than we really are.

For example, one of my best friends is engaged (wahoo!!) and it's wonderful. My friends make an amazing couple and will be an excellent husband and wife to each other; they're already very good at being an old married couple sometimes. There had been a few times when I've looked at them and all their happiness, then turned and looked at myself and my very single and ready to mingle-ness and felt bad for myself. Sometimes it caused me to word-vomit in the form of making jokes about being "forever alone" or feeling bad about myself because of what I don't have. However, I'd like to think that I've grown up a lot in that I look at my wonderful friend who is engaged and rejoice for what she has. I'm terribly excited for her and her adventures; I also embrace and look forward to the adventures I get to have as well. Instead of simply looking at her as someone who has something I don't, I choose to look at her as a person and love her as her individual self, and I in turn can look at myself and love many elements of myself as well. In learning to love my friend better, I've also learned to love myself. (And that's something I've learned from several very dear friendships.)

Some of the people with the most obvious low self esteem are those who exhibit extraordinarily narcissistic tendencies. It could be that seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum tend to mirror each other very well. It could also be those who are self focused want the spotlight on themselves and use their insecurities to garner attention. I'm still thinking it through, and I don't actually know if there's a straight answer to what I'm pondering.

When I think of my life, the moments when I feel like the least awesome edition of myself are also moments when I need to get over myself. They're the times when I needed to stop thinking of myself so much and put my energy into more constructive things. When I put the spotlight of my life away from myself, life becomes much more full. I just said "myself" a billion times, which is annoying, but the point is that I need to make the purpose of my life not geared toward self.

Perhaps this is why religion is such a big deal. Maybe people realize that living life for the purpose of something above their own joy really enhances it. Maybe that is our purpose. I know that living my life for God's purpose and not for my own brings my heart a sense of peace. And one of the things which has helped me to realize that I am worth loving has come through the understanding that the God I believe in will love me no matter what, so I should love myself no matter what.

One of the best life lessons I've ever realized is that I shouldn't take myself so seriously. I should get over my self and be able to laugh at my mistakes and flaws without feeling shame for them. It's not all about me, and knowing that has lightened my heart. I'm thankful to have learned to love myself and respect myself, and in doing so am able to focus more of my time and energy on other things and people, which ultimately feels like a much more fulfilling life. It's like the circle of life.

I don't feel like I explain myself particularly well, so if anyone else out there has a different perspective or thought on the matter, feel free to share. :)

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