Gone are the days of “love your neighbour as you love yourself.”
We seldom do love ourselves. If we were to follow this idiom, and treat others as we treat ourselves, the results would be carnage! We would keep them awake at night with worry and stress. We would be critical of their appearance. We would constantly question whether they are good enough. We would work them like dogs; at work, at the gym, at home, with friends, treating them to a constant monologue breaking down each action and telling them how they did that wrong, should be embarrassed about this, should be doing the other. It would be downright cruel. And yet, we do this to ourselves every day. In this day and age we spend so much time pleasing others, helping others, loving others, and we seldom treat ourselves to the same kindnesses.
I had the pleasure last month of attending a seminar courtesy of Earth Events, with Leona D’Vas as the representation from Woman.com.au. The event was Self Love and Sisterhood, and featured four inspiring women teaching us the ways of self love. Not that self love, calm down! No, the kind of self love that means we treat our body, soul and mind like it’s the only one we’ve got, like it’s fragile and precious. Because it is, right?
So the event got me thinking about our attitude towards ourselves. ‘Self Love’ is about being selfish. Not in the mean way – it’s good to help people, and it’s great to care about people. I’ve been reading Kamal Ravikant’s Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It, and he uses the best example I’ve heard. Anyone who’s been on a plane knows, you put your own oxygen mask on first before helping those around you. Why? Because we can’t help others if we run out of oxygen ourselves. We need to stop saving this attitude of self preservation for life-threatening situations. Life is precious every day! And we need to appreciate it and love ourselves. Every. Damn. Day.
We are so much kinder on others than we are on ourselves. The Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign is testament to that – if you haven’t seen it, have a look here (and have tissues at the ready!) In the ad, a forensic artist draws women purely from their description of themselves. Then he draws them again, this time from a description by a random stranger. Not a friend or loved one, just a person they’ve had a wee chat with for ten minutes. The differences are phenomenal. The drawings from the strangers descriptions are not only more beautiful, but more accurate. We need to start showing ourselves this kind of appreciation!
Let’s change the saying. Let’s love ourselves as we love others. Let’s notice the good stuff about ourselves, and excuse the negatives. Let’s encourage ourselves to be better without criticising. And let’s realise that some days, being better means just taking a quiet moment to appreciate and love ourselves. Then we can get around to loving others just as much.