The Self Love Daily Challenge #004: Challenge yourself to serve others, instead of please others today.
Let’s talk today about how loving yourself leads to loving others. I know this may be a confusing concept for some. How does loving yourself allow for you to love others more fully as well? I think this is where most of the confusion comes in when we talk about learning how to love yourself. I think a lot of people believe that when we are on a journey to love ourselves it means completely settling aside doing anything for others and only focusing on our own needs. This is selfish, yes. This is not the correct way to learn to love yourself. And while yes, you do need to focus on yourself and take care of your needs, you also need to learn that the ultimate goal for loving yourself is so that you CAN love others more fully.
In reality, we are not put on this Earth so that we can only focus on ourselves and our own well being. We are put on this Earth ultimately to serve each other and to produce ultimate good. I know the concept of “serving” can also easily be confused with “pleasing.” Folks, SERVING and PLEASING are not the same thing!! I repeat SERVING and PLEASING are not the same thing.
Serving is a form of love. It is when we love ourselves enough that we can turn that love outward onto others. We can serve them by doing good for them without expecting any sort of praise, approval, or affirmation in return. The reason why loving ourselves allows us to love others and serve them is because when we are secure in our own identities and already have our own approval and affirmation, then we do not need to seek it outwardly from others, so that frees up room for us to do good without seeking anything in return. However, when we do not love ourselves in a healthy way, we are always seeking affirmation from others to tell us that we are indeed lovable and worthy, so when we do try to do something good for others, we are doing it with the intention of receiving some sort of feedback and affirmation. This is when serving turns into pleasing.
We do not want to ever please people. I don’t mean this in the sense that we don’t want to make anyone happy or do anything good. I mean this in the sense that we don’t want to strive or work for love and approval. We don’t need to push ourselves or try to earn love. This is unhealthy and will always leave us feeling empty or unworthy, because in reality it is impossible to please others fully. There will always be someone, somewhere that will be displeased with how we act, and that one piece of negative feedback is enough to send us flying back into uncertainty about our own identities.
So what i’m saying is, don’t PLEASE people. Serve them instead.
Serving is doing something out of love. Serving is washing the dishes without being asked and without expecting a thank you. Serving is doing someone a favor without expecting a favor in return. Serving is going out of your way, without expecting some sort of praise. Serving is an extension of self love. It is saying “I love myself enough to love you without expectation.”
For me this does not come easy. I’m sure for many people it does not come easy because:
1) It is human nature to be selfish and to only think of what would be beneficial for ourselves and serving others is definitely not beneficial to ourselves because it is doing something for someone else without getting anything in return.
2) It is human nature to seek affirmation. We always want to know that we are doing good enough. We want to be perfect. We don’t want to make any mistakes. We want to know that our efforts aren’t being wasted and we want to be told that they aren’t.
So the concept of pleasing has always come more natural to me. I’ve always thought that the idea of doing something for someone and getting something in return was how it should be. I mean doesn’t it make sense? Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. And while yes, sometimes it’s kind of cool when someone does do something good for you in return, but a more healthier version would be that if they did something in return for you as a way of serving you back, rather than doing something back for you so that you would once again do something back for them in the future.
I always thought that pleasing was also the only way to feel good about myself, to like I was worthy of love. I believed that I had to work for love. That I had to be good enough, perfect enough, etc. But nope. This is an unhealthy way of thinking.
We are already good enough. loved enough. perfect enough. awesome enough. We don’t need to work for it. We just need to accept these things about ourselves in the form of self love. See when you love yourself, it opens up doors to so many other things. You don’t have to seek out your identity from outside sources because your identity is already grounded inside you already. And for those of us who believe in a greater power, our identities are grounded in our faith. I, myself, believe that God is the one who gives me my identity. He is the one who gives me that security to believe that I am worthy because He sent His one and only son to die on the cross for my sins. If i’m not worthy, then He would have never done that. And because of this concept, I am free from having to strive for any sort of affirmation or approval or sense of worth from any outside source.
I’m not trying to push the concept of religion to anyone, but what I’m saying is, seeking our identities from the outside is not good. We should always ground ourselves in our identities that come from within.
This weekend I tried to follow this concept of serving, and like I said it does not come easy to me so it definitely requires conscious effort. Instead of focusing on how I could benefit, I simply did good things for others around me without expecting anything in return, even a thank you. For example, Saturday’s are always family days in my family. They have been for the past 15 years ever since my parent’s divorced. But every Saturday my father will come over and spend time with all of us. It’s kind of weird but hey what family isn’t right? (so judgement-free zone my friends!) So usually we go out to lunch, hang out for a few hours and I leave. In the past, I used to view this time together as something I HAD to do, like it was an obligation. Sad right? Well, lately i’ve been realizing that this was kind of selfish. Why was I viewing hanging out with my family as an obligatory task? And I realized it was because as I grew older, I viewed hanging out with my family as something that was not really beneficial. It was like wasting time because I wasn’t really getting anything out of it because we never really did anything I wanted to do. (I hate hearing myself say these things, because it brings upon a lot of shame and guilt, but this is also a no shaming zone!)
So as i’ve grown in my journey within myself, I’m realizing that spending time with family is not about getting something out of it. It’s about selflessly spending time with family and enjoying it because you are with people who love and care about you, who you should also love and care about. So instead of viewing it as an obligation, I’ve been viewing it as something that I want to do as an act of love. And it really has changed me. I feel a deeper sense of joy and happiness now. I feel like I’m giving love rather than seeking to take something that would only benefit myself. And let me tell you my friends, giving really does bring a deeper sense of happiness and joy than taking ever brings. So because of my change in perspective (aha! yesterday’s post!) I’ve been able to see spending family day’s as not something of an obligation anymore, but rather as something I want to do. And it brings me love and it brings them love.
And that’s the best thing of all – when we can feel love all around.