It may be conjecture on my part, but it sure seems that there has been an increase over the past twenty years in self hate. If the statistics are correct (and you could argue effectively that the statistics are lean), out of every 1000 teenage girls, 50 of them engage in self-mutilation. This peculiar rise in hurting oneself seems to indicate a decrease in our positive feelings towards ourselves.
Now is probably a good time for us all to work on self-love.
Now is probably a good time for us all to work on self-love.
We all recognize a moral obligation to love humanity. Even many atheists agree to this principle. Well guess what – you’re a full fledged member of humanity. So go ahead enjoy life, and love yourself.
I’m certainly not advocating the kind of self absorption that causes a person to think he/she is more important to the world than other people. That’s called arrogance. If you love a friend sincerely, that shouldn’t cause you to think they deserve special privileges or are more important to the world than others. Similarly if you love yourself, that shouldn’t cause you to take advantage of others.
The kind of love I’m advocating is merely feeling pleasure by being connected to another human being because of who they are. Because of their good traits, and in spite of their flaws.
For the next few weeks on the Hebrew calendar, this time period is particularly conducive to self-growth that requires small steps taken each day towards a goal of character development. It is called the “days of sefira.”
Here are three simple tools you can use to increase your self-love during this time:
1. Get to know yourself
Write down a list of 10 character traits you possess that you’re proud of. Look at the piece of paper a few times the next day to see how you feel about it. Once you feel confident that it’s a good accurate list, take it out once in the morning and once at night and glance at it.
“To thine own self be true.” – Shakespeare
I have to wonder whether or not the runaway bride has enough self-knowledge. It seems to me that one who truly knows herself will not have a pre-wedding freak out. Of course before a major commitment we tend to question ourselves or doubt our actions. And maybe something happened that caused her to doubt her earlier decision. I’m not judging the runaway bride. I don’t know Jennifer Wilbanks, and I haven’t discussed with her what she was going through. But the idea of a bride or groom getting cold feet at the last moment could certainly be an outcome of a lack of self-knowledge.
There are many benefits to be had through self-knowledge.
2. Are you happy to be you?
How many parts of your body are you disappointed with? Some studies show that as many as 95% of women are preoccupied with their weight. Are you too short, too tall? Is your nose to small, too big? While we can adjust many physical aspects of ourselves, we do need to draw the line somewhere. To a certain extent we need to realize that the Almighty made us the way we are for a reason. This is the way He wants us to be. Health issues aside, is your body’s design leaves you feeling inadequate, you should have a talk with the manufacturer. Remember…the all wise and all loving one?
We all have challenges. Your personality was designed very precisely. Your body, mental abilities, and life circumstances all go together in a very neat package that was designed by an infinite being. You have the challenges that best suit your temperment and you might not be able to handle someone else’s challenges.
There are things to love about yourself, and things to work on.
Your nose is your nose. Love it and move on. (After all, it didn’t hurt Cyrano de Bergerac, Gerard Depardieu, Jimmy Durante, Cher, or Barbara Striesand.)
Your patience is changeable. That you can work to improve.
Your height is your height. Get rid of the platform heels. Love it and move on.
Your wisdom is never static. The more you learn, the wiser you’ll be.
Whenever we feel dissatisfied with life, we have a side of ourselves that gravitates towards a change that is easy and superficial. This keeps us busy with something less important, when what we should be focussed on is deeper and a bit more difficult.
Make a list of five things you’re dissatisfied with that you can’t change. Tell yourself you love those things. “I love my nose. I love my height. etc.”
Make a list of five things you’d like to change and can. Give yourself a pat on the back for being honest, and aspiring to a “greater you.”
3. Bad things happen to good people
Don’t fall into the “why me” syndrome. The book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” relates an incident where a man in the hospital says, “Why me?” to all his friends until one of them suggests an answer, at which the infirmed man screams, “How dare you?!” Some people say – if you don’t want the answer, don’t ask the question.
When something terrible happens it may be a Divine criticism, but that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. We all have flaws. Nobody’s perfect. The sign of a great and humble person is the ability to withstand criticism. When I send an article out on the email it feels good to get compliments back. But I also want criticism, so I can become a better writer.
If you want to be a better human being you need to be open to criticism from the Almighty. We all could be doing a better job. In fact, it’s actually a compliment from God that you can handle more of a challenge in life. We expect much more from a 20 year old than we do from a 10 year old. Therefore if a 20 year old and a 10 year old hand in the same term paper we’ll criticize the one from the 20 year old because he has much more potential.
Maybe the Almighty is saying you have much more potential than what you’ve accomplished so far.
Think of one area of life in which you feel the Almighty has been hinting to you that you are ready to be a better person. It’s not a criticism, it’s a compliment.
The Almighty already made billions of people before He made you. If He wanted you on the planet there must be something wonderful about you that needs to be here. He loves you, you can too.
As Ethel Waters said, “God don’t make no junk.”