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I recently wrote a piece on Loving them from afar, about the need to sever close ties with someone who no longer adds to your life, and you to theirs. I received mostly positive praise but like anything some negative feelings arose that I wanted to discuss. I had those that felt the idea was displaying selfish behavior and a cold heart, both of which I thought I explained wasn’t the case and really the opposite.
I stand by my work but I wanted to discuss what it really means to be about self-love and to be selfish.
For me it’s been a long road to self-love, a road I am still on and am still trying with every step. In some respects I don’t mind being called selfish since that was the furthest thing from myself for ages. I was and still am a giver. I like for others to be happy and on a great path in life. I do what I can to facilitate others dreams and ease their journey, often times with money, being a chauffeur, and even being a B&B sometimes. I put others ahead of me usually out of reflects but sometimes hoping to solidify a friendship, love, or just warmth coming towards me from someone else. I was craving affection and acceptance anywhere I could get it; feeling like my natural kind heart and giving soul would be rewarded. Yeah, that didn’t happen to often so it was time for me to switch things up. I saw my actions as enabling continued bad behavior in my friends and in myself; so both had to be fine tuned so I could continue to be me but finally begin to protect myself as well.
The idea of self-love comes with knowing your worth. I will simply state your worth so there is no confusion, it is worth the exact same as everyone else. No one is above or below anyone, and once that becomes your core being, wow the things that change and open up. When you know what worth is, you don’t accept people trying to diminish you, but you also don’t feel the need to rise at the expense of others. There is a calm and sense of balance in this way of thinking, and like always I thank Buddhism for this awakening in me. Specifically the Four Noble Truths of suffering opened my eyes to the need to stop being the cause of my own suffering which stems from envy and jealousy for me.
The idea of being selfish turns self-love into an extreme principle. When one is selfish, the idea of “me first” and “me being the best” is all that comes to mind. I don’t believe this to bring lasting joy to anyone. I can say I have been selfish at times, many times in my youth but once you become aware of self and what being selfish does to a person, things change if it’s in your being to feel empathy for others which I fortunately do. If you really want to be selfish, think of the pain, struggle, and hardship it takes to continue to be selfish. Who wants to always be trying to get over on another person? Who wants to be alone and without loved ones because of grasping and selfish ways? Who wants be so focused on the future not to realize the present is so messed up?
So I talk often about self-love and self-awareness, not about being selfish. When I decide I can not be of service to another person, I of course discuss my feelings because things could change in conversation; insights can be gleamed that were not there and a new understand and path can be forged. When that has failed it does you a service to let go as neither party has to feel distress about not living up to expectations. I might be Buddhist but I’m still a layperson that has expectations, questions, doubts, fear and still ego. I’m a work in progress and my current way of being wants to be of service to others and receive great energy from those I let into my life. I have no expectations or requirement for random people or acquaintances, but I do for friends and loved ones. I understand as I progress I will change my thinking and hopefully do away with ego and expectations but I’m not there yet. Self love and self-awareness make it possible not to waste my time or someone else’s.
In the end self-love comes from spending time with your heart. I spent many months and years trying and failing at friendships and relationships. When I became serious about my path out of suffering, I had to look at the rough times with a microscope. For me, I found I still like others to be happy but I wanted to be just as happy. It was revealed to me I had to not put myself first exactly but my path first. I had to look at if the actions I was contemplating doing would serve my path, serve this person and in the end serve a purpose. I still give but I don’t give until it hurts. I don’t see giving as needing to hurt. Those that give do it out of loving kindness so it can’t really hurt. I give when it isn’t in conflict with my being and my path; that includes time, money and actions. I am in the process of surrounding myself with like-minded people because I have found this to be true; you are who you associate with. It’s not to say the hustler temporarily doing what it takes to make ends meet is a bad person; but if that’s not your path then why accompany someone down theirs. Self love means to be kind to yourself and maybe even showing that person your love of self could be enough to bring them to a better place.
To know me is to realize I am not selfish but I wont be deterred from my path. To know me is to know I still give, up until the moment it’s suppose to hurt but not beyond. To know me is to be about hope and love and to understand my crusade not fear it. To know me is to know self-love.