I’ve come to two realizations today.
Not necessarily relating to each other but I thought I would share the first anyway, despite it being more of a personal thought rather than a true realization or fact.
I find myself feeling lately that I am not qualified to be a teacher of self love or really of anything, as I myself am still learning. I’m trying not to be self-deprecating by saying that but it’s difficult to keep believing in your own ability to help others when you yourself are still struggling with so many things. Maybe I shouldn’t place so much pressure on myself. Maybe I don’t necessarily need to create a blog that is purely for “teaching” wellness skills, but rather keep my focus on changing for the better in my own journey, and hoping that it will spill over into helping others through the sharing of my experiences.
The other realization I’ve come to today is that too much of a good thing, can quickly turn into a really bad thing. Hence, the title of my post – I am learning that too much self love can deviously turn into selfishness if we are not careful.
It’s funny because when I first started this blog, I wanted to make sure that people did not get the two confused – that essentially promoting self love did not mean that I was also advocating for people to become selfish. Because that is not what self love is all about.
Self love is about learning our own value and learning to accept and love ourselves in our most true and natural state. I wanted to also make it a point that as we begin to learn to love ourselves, it also opens up a deeper part of our hearts, giving us the ability to also love others as well. This is why I believe learning to love ourselves is not doing a selfish thing, but rather it is doing a kind thing for humanity.
But I guess because we are all human, flawed, and realistically selfish by nature, we are bound to corrupt it’s good nature eventually. What I mean is this – if we become too focused on ourselves, self love can (sometimes) unknowingly turn into self-absorption, which is a selfish thing. This is how too much of a good thing can easily backfire.
Because I want to be as open and honest as possible, I’m going to admit that this blog and maybe even some of my own self love practices have caused me to become too self absorbed. I’ve taken it too far, instead of taking it to the next level and spreading that newfound love inside me to other people. I’ve become too focused on my own needs, what I want, and what I deserve. I was masking it as simply being kind or loving towards myself, but in reality, I am entertaining an attitude of entitlement. Again, I don’t mean to sound so harsh when describing myself but it is good to examine our hearts once in a while to make sure they are centered in the right place.
I began to notice most recently that I’ve become rather lazy, using the excuse that I am too tired because I work too much for everything. I’ve gone so far as to use this excuse as a reason not to cook meals for my boyfriend and I or do any housework or even get up early enough to do anything fun together anymore. I whine and complain that “I’m simply too tired,” to do any of these things, and that I need to “take care of myself and rest.” Sure, it’s great to take care of your needs when you are feeling overwhelmed because of having too much on your plate, but when does it cross the line?
It crosses the line when you begin to use this excuse as a way to manipulate other people to do things for you. I am ashamed to say this is exactly what I have been doing (not consciously mind you)! I would manipulate my boyfriend into feeling guilty by telling him that I’m always the one cooking or always the one cleaning or always the one doing everything and then demanding when it would be my turn to be taken care of. I played the classic victim role.
But this is not the only area of my life where I have done this. I’ve noticed this lazy and entitled attitude carry itself over into other parts of my life.
At work, I’ve been doing the bare minimum – accounting it to having worked there for 10+ years and giving the excuse that I’ve worked hard enough, that it was essentially someone else’s turn to work hard now and my turn to take it easy because I’ve already put in my time.
I’ve even done it with family or friends. Why did I have to put in so much effort to meet their needs? When were they going to meet mine? Why did I always have to be the one to run at their first beck and call, when would it be my turn for reciprocation?
Now that I look back on this disgusting attitude of mine, (let’s just call it for what it is) I can’t believe that this was my way of thinking! And the sad part is, it only drove people further and further away, not wanting to reciprocate in meeting my needs in any form. And I don’t blame them.
But so often we find ourselves slipping into these bad behaviors unknowingly. We simply excuse it as either taking care of ourselves first or sometimes even convincing ourselves that we deserve something because we’ve worked so hard for it.
I’m trying not to be hard on myself, although I am a bit upset at myself for allowing it to get this bad. But because God gave us grace first and taught us to extend grace to others (as well as ourselves too) this is precisely what I’m going to attempt to do.
Christina, it’s ok. You make mistakes, but you’ve realized it, and now you work on changing for the better. Simple.
And that’s it. No slipping into self-pity mode. No bashing myself with guilt or shame. Just simply forgiveness.
Much easier said than done, trust me. But I’m going to choose to do it.
But do you see how easily it is to turn self love into an excuse for self-centeredness? Do you see how easily we can manipulate it into something that it is not supposed to be?
How can we prevent this in the future?
I’m still trying to figure that part out, but through prayer and wisdom from God, I think I have a few suggestions that I’m willing to try out myself and hope that it will be good wisdom for some of you too.
We have to realize that we are not entitled to anything.
Just because we have discovered that we are worthy or deserving of better things and of love, doesn’t mean that we stop giving out that love and service to others as well and only focus on taking. We should never feel entitled to anything and remember that everything is a gift, so we must be grateful for it. As soon as you begin to feel like you deserve someone else’s love or service, that’s when you know you are headed into selfish territory.
Just because we are learning how to love ourselves, doesn’t mean we get to stop loving others as well.
God brought me to this verse today. It says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (Phil. 2:4) AKA don’t be so self-absorbed! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the world revolves around only you. Your needs are important, but the needs of others are important too.
When we receive love, remember to equally give out that same love to others.
If someone does something kind for you, give out that same kindness to someone else. If you receiving in a lot of love, remember to give out just as much! We should always live in an environment where we are giving more than receiving.
Stop making excuses for why you can’t do something to benefit someone else.
I know you’re tired, so am I. I know you’re probably overworked, SO AM I. I know you do a lot and I know you deserve a lot and I know you want your needs met too. But I’m learning that giving is a lot more satisfying than taking, especially when it comes to love. You know how happy it makes me feel when I do cook that meal for my boyfriend and at the end of it he tells me how wonderful it was and how grateful he was that I made it. Or have you ever experienced that moment when you decide to go out of your way to call up a friend to ask how they are rather than venting to them first about your own horrible day? You can automatically sense how grateful they are that you’ve asked. It’s a great way of showing that you really do care and aren’t always concerned with what you need.
Basically, the key to not being selfish is making sure that you are putting equal importance on the needs of others as well. I don’t know how I got to this point and I really hope that I can begin to change, especially in the area of feeling entitled and lazy. It’s not fair to the people I love or care about, and it’s really not good character to have this attitude.
I think if you’re like me, and – welp – giving is not really second nature to you, then start small. In a sermon I was listening to recently concerning selfishness, it said that for those of us who do struggle with selfishness and want to change, we should always start small with practicing common courtesy.
If someone asks you how you are, be sure to return the favor by asking how they are. If someone holds the door for you, be sure to hold the door for someone else. If you see someone struggling with something, ask if they need a helping hand. Just tiny little gestures, tiny baby steps towards becoming a more selfless person. And you know what, honestly, it’s going to take real effort to do it, especially for me. Because my brain does not automatically jump to, “oh I should step in and help this person.”
Part of change is an active effort of rewiring our programming and doing that requires a ton of practice and conscious effort. We have to do the right things over and over again, despite our nature to do the complete opposite. It reminds me of another verse I found in the bible when Paul is speaking about the conflict of two natures – our flesh verses our spiritual nature. He says, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate…I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Romans 7:14-23)
We always seem to know what is right and yet somehow, we end up doing it wrong because it is our imperfect nature. But that doesn’t mean we can’t keep trying to do what is right and purposely choosing to do what is right despite our inherently “selfish nature.”
I don’t particularly enjoy writing blog posts where I have to admit something about an area in my life where I am not too proud of or that I struggle with. It makes me feel ashamed and like many of you will judge me for being a “bad person.” But I don’t think people are as bad as we often perceive they will be. I don’t think your first thought will automatically be to tell me how terrible I am. I think your first thought will be a thought of relief, because you have probably felt the same way I have at times when you’ve fallen short in your own ways. And I think that is exactly how we can practice giving each other grace.
Anyway, keep going, my friends.
The Self Love Daily Challenge:
Practice doing something good for someone else that may not necessarily benefit you directly.