SO much talk about self-love and self-care. But what does that really mean? My needs come first? Time for a massage? More me to connect better with you? Self-respect that leads to respect of every living creature? Or more ego pampering?
Self-care isn’t just essential oils, massages, holidays or yoga retreats. Nothing wrong with that but I find this approach has become overly glamourized and the word self-care has become a randomly used platitude.
Self-care also means identifying where we screwed up, being accountable for it, making efforts to rectify your mistakes + doing better next time. It means being willing to connect to others and the world in a meaningful and purposeful way. It means the courage to fail, to feel and to heal the root of the actual disease: our sense of separateness. Above all it means our ability to understand with no judgement, to forgive, then to forgive some more so that we may genuinely be able to care for ourselves and others.
Same with self-love. Self-love isn’t just basking in our light. It’s taking an honest look at our life, owning our character defects, changing our habits, our need to judge ourself and others constantly and making changes where necessary. It's not done by buying a new beauty product or desperately seeking 'good vibes only'. It takes courage, discipline, humility and willingness to change our mindset and our frequency. This is hard, purifying, committed work.
Self-love to me is also allowing the vulnerable, authentic, imperfect self to shine forth, embracing it with all we have. By doing so we find compassion, forgiveness and understanding for others in their own vulnerability and imperfection. Quite a bold and unusual thing to do in our image-profit-success driven society. I am all in though.
The thought that our needs come first is the opposite of yogic thinking. They don’t always come first. There are over seven billion people on this planet, countless animal species, wars and refugees, environmental disasters, problems so serious that they threaten countless lives. And ignoring that reality limits the real impact you could make in the world.
I don’t think this individual focus of self-care is working for anyone. We need to see the bigger picture. While I understand that you can’t pour from the empty cup, and we all need time for ourselves, I think it is equally important to not see yourself, your needs, your time, your life as separate from others or from this one planet we all share and are inextricably a part of.
Self-care, self-love or love in general cannot remain by itself - it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service and caring for others.