How Do You Define Self-Love?
“I believe that not only do self-love and love of others go hand in hand but that ultimately they are indistinguishable.” - Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled.
Self-love means different things to different people, as love in general is a rather mysterious subject. I’m not sure anyone has truly been able to define it in its entirety, probably as a result of people feeling it or expressing it in so many various ways. Personally, I have always thought of it as an acceptance thing - feeling comfortable with both my strengths and weaknesses as well as being open to myself as a whole.
There are a million and one ways to look at it and I’m sure you have your own concepts of what love - or more specifically self-love - means or looks like. Recently, I found my own views challenged whilst reading ‘The Road Less Travelled’ by Scott Peck (psychiatrist turned author and spiritual guide extraordinaire). I’m halfway through the book and have just finished the chapter on love, of which I felt quite enlightened reading and wanted to share some of the author's ideas with you.
“We are incapable of loving another unless we love ourselves, just as we are incapable of teaching our children self-discipline unless we ourselves are self-disciplined. It is actually impossible to forsake our own spiritual development in favor of someone else’s. We cannot forsake self-discipline and at the same time be disciplined in our care for another. We cannot be a source of strength unless we nurture our own strength.”
The general gist equates love to action and discipline, in that we have to make the effort to love ourselves as well as others. Peck depicts love as more of a choice than a feeling and while I first I was a bit skeptical, I enjoyed the idea that we all have the capacity to love anyone (ourselves included) by simply applying meaningful effort into that activity, of which Peck believes further develops into spiritual growth.
So how do you love yourself then? According to Peck, telling yourself and/or believing you do isn’t enough. Providing loving attention to yourself requires disciple, especially as it’s all too easy to put everyone else’s needs first before our own. Time and energy must be invested into showing yourself that you care, whatever that may mean for you. He highlights true listening, scheduling time for undivided attention, celebrating individuality and independence as facets of love, as well as the commitment to spiritual growth and confrontation of issues - all acts that can be applied to developing a better relationship with oneself and others.
“Love is not effortless. To the contrary, it’s effortful… We choose to love.”
On the surface, it sounds a bit like therapy or perhaps the same relationship you might have with your own inner child, and yet I love this idea of rejecting passivity when it comes to developing self-love and promoting the active pursuit of understanding oneself better. By no means is it an easy feat for anyone to do, but the act of investing energy into ourselves and our ‘me time’, in spite of the difficulties associated with it, is in fact an example of being loving in itself.
So what’s your take on self-love? Do you agree with Mr. Peck? Is it easier said than done or is it achievable over time?