Stop telling me to love myself; I want to love others

April 4, 2016

Eleanor Sturt
esturt@uccs.edu

Love yourself. That seems like great advice, but truthfully, it’s rubbish.

I see posts online that compare love to a glass of water, stating that you need to fill your glass before you can give to others. Or posts that say your own happiness is more important than that of others.

This seems all wrong.

Being proud of who you are is important. But I am tired of being told to love myself. More importantly, that I have to love myself before I can love others.

We live in an individualistic culture where the world revolves around one person rather than a community.

Individualistic cultures feed creative minds and encourage people to stand out. I am all for people celebrating what makes them different.

But what I’m not OK with is people putting themselves on a pedestal as if they are better than the rest of the universe.

People who encourage others to “love themselves” or “do what makes you happy” drive an egotistic, self-centered mindset.

Sanskrit, one of the official languages in India, has 96 words for love. English has only one.

English “love” refers to romantic love, the love between friends, and even the deep appreciation for inanimate objects.

What type of love is our society telling us to use when it says “love yourself?”

It isn’t really clear. Should we love ourselves as a friend, or the way we love our favorite soda?

It doesn’t matter as long as we know how to achieve this self-love: self-fulfilled happiness. Self-centered love is driven by making ourselves happy. If we are happy, then we love ourselves.

People seem to think there is a connection between loving oneself and being happy.

“If I lose 30 pounds, I will be happy and love myself.”

“If I go on a vacation, I will be happy and love myself.”

People use the phrase “you do you” almost as an excuse to do whatever makes them happy.

I know mothers who post on Facebook that they left their kids with their mother for a couple weeks to go do yoga on the beach. Their kids miss school, but, hey, you do you.

People will leave their families because they are no longer happy, but, that’s OK; you do you.

We have been taught that it is OK to do what makes us happy, because it will make us love ourselves. It doesn’t matter if we hurt people we care about, as long as we are happy.

Sadly, people seeking love out of self-fulfilling happiness are in for disappointment.

Happiness will not make you love yourself. Loving yourself shouldn’t even be a goal.

Look for contentment instead. Being content is not found in oneself, but in others. Love others. Serve others.

Love isn’t a glass you must fill in order to help other people. Making yourself happy will not increase your state of life; contentment will.

So, please stop telling me to love myself.

I am quite content loving others. You should be too.