Try saying to yourself this statement – “I love myself and I put myself first.”
How does it make you feel?
More often than not, if you are not used to this concept, it will bring some shiver down your spine. You will not be at ease in saying that statement and it totally doesn’t feel natural. Some people think by saying that, you are automatically a selfish and egoistic person. I used to think that way too but now, I beg to differ.
I really wonder how majority of us are being brought to believe that it is selfish to love ourselves. I wouldn’t know many of your stories but I have my own life to look at.
In a traditional Chinese or I believe Asian family, we are so accustomed to put everyone first but ourselves. We have to put our elders first; these include our parents, our elder brothers/sisters, our grandparents, our aunties, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, friends’ parents, parent’s friends, etc and the list goes on. As long as these people are in front of you, you are taking the second chair.
You have to show “respect” by making sure the people who are older than you are taken care of first. Hence, it’s very common in the Asian family, the eldest in the family always take on the most responsibility, especially in the olden days and especially if you are a male. Many have sacrificed their own studies to go out and work early in their lives so that they are able to support their siblings. This trait is really admirable and pretty much rare to be seen in where I’m living now.
I too learned from my school and church that I have to serve. So, we serve for the sake of serving. I served for the sake of “this is how it is supposed to be”. I served relentlessly on a weekly basis, if I could. But, there’s this fake façade I found in people that at that point of time I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. But it didn’t feel “real”. It felt like some people were there “serving” for a different purpose.
Don’t get me wrong! I think ultimately, all our life purpose is not for ourselves, we have our own calling, believe it or not. You don’t need to be Oprah or Jesus to have a calling. Your calling may just be for your family or friends and still that’s a worthy calling. However, from my own personal experience, serving, giving and everything are so much more fulfilling when I have first to learn how to serve/give/love myself.
Loving yourself, is not a selfish act at all. It’s actually the other way round.
Imagine if you are a car, your purpose is to be driven and to bring your passengers from point A to point B. Well, I don’t drive well and I don’t know the mechanics of a car but I do know one of the most important component without which you just can’t go here go there is – you need the fuel.
To love yourself first, is like to put a full tank in your car to ensure your passengers have a good ride to their destination. To love yourself first, means to be the best that you can be so that you can give the best of yourself to others. How is that a selfish act? It is not only a win-win situation, because when your tank is full, you are happy. When you help others when you are happy, others are happy too.
I come a really long way in learning how to love myself. 14 years to be exact and I briefly mentioned how I came to realize that in previous post of mine where I talked about my parents. Since, I have been on both sides now (quoting Joni Mitchell’s awesome song), I realize I am a better person after my tank is full. Not only I am happier, but others feel better when they are with me. How can they not be? My tank is full, I can bring them here and there to their destinations. Though sometimes my car will breakdown, but after putting myself at rest into a imaginary service center – as long as the fuel is intact, I’m good to go again.
Now, when I look back at all the values I have learned from being in a traditional Chinese family, being from school, from church I used to attend, I can now appreciate them even more. When I do give my respect to my elders, it comes from the utmost sincere place. I respect you because I want to and not because I need to and not because it’s customary and tradition to do so. When I do good and serve others, it’s not because I have to and not because I need to follow a certain doctrine to prove my worthiness, but because I love to and I genuinely will do it without anybody instructs me to do so.
Loving myself first, is one of the best thing that has ever happened to me. It was a long and winding road but I have arrived, and here/now is better than there/then.
So, love yourself first, why should you?
Because before it’s too late for you to realize, you are the only being who has accompanied you at your birth. You are the only person who has made all the choices in life that brought you where you are now. You are the only person who is still standing when others have left. You are the only person who cried yourself to sleep and still woke up the next morning and live your life as it is. You will be the one and only person who take that final breath as you part with this amazing journey called life. Why shouldn’t you love yourself when ultimately, you are all that you really have?
The most meaningful lesson I learned from being at death’s door is that unless I love myself, nothing else in my life can function at its best. The amount of depth, meaning, and joy I experience in my life is in direct proportion to how much love I have for myself. The amount of love, kindness, patience I have for others is also directly proportional to how much love, patience and kindness I have for myself, because we cannot give others what we ourselves do not have. – Anita Moorjani