I’ve often thought about the saying “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It puzzled me back in childhood and still does today. I don’t think we love ourselves very much.
I’m not talking about selfishness, arrogance or narcissism, which seem to be running rampant these days.
I’m talking about real self-love. Accepting ourselves as the perfectly and uniquely flawed human beings we are. If we learn to love and appreciate the flaws and blemishes we see in ourselves, will it be so big a step to extend that love and appreciation to those around us?
“And God said ‘Love Your Enemy,’ and I obeyed Him and loved myself.” – Khalil Gibran
Gibran’s quote begs the question: “Who is the enemy?”
Often we are our own worst enemy, sabotaging our own success, by not believing in ourselves. We measure our worth against the perception of others, valuing their opinions over our own. We constantly compare ourselves to others, and come up lacking far too often. We try to compensate with pills and clothes and money and more stuff. We surf social media, peer into the lives of friends and celebrities, and think that somehow that reflects reality. Then we sabotage the efforts of others in a vane attempt to feel better about ourselves.
Paula Cole speaks to the issue in her song “Me” when she sings
It’s me who is my enemy
Me who beats me up
Me who makes the monsters
Me who strips my confidence
She recognizes that she is not what everyone sees, but something authentically unique and special inside, and finds her own strength in the face of fear.
I am walking on the bridge,
I am over the water,
And I’m scared as hell
But I know there’s something better.
So what does self-love look like?
Perhaps if we loved ourselves more, recognized our true selves more, celebrated our differences more, we could find a way to love our neighbors more and maybe our enemies too.
And wouldn’t the world be a better place?