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the self love myth + how to face it

sharing thoughts on the self love myth and how to promote wellness while loving others

Over the last year I’ve seen a huge surge in the ‘self love’ movement. I can’t pinpoint where it came from. I imagine some of it is in tandem with the feminist, anti-Trump action. I could also see it stemming from the ‘Me Too’ advancement. Whatever the case may be, I see holes in this philosophy.

I picture the self love movement and myth this way: We’re all walking along a cliff. We climbed to the top and can see how far we’ve come. The view is glorious, we feel great about our accomplishments, and we’re reveling in beauty. But a steep drop lies ahead. No one sees it–we’re not paying attention. But we’re about to fall tumbling down.

Now, that’s a dramatic portrait of self love, but hear me out for the reasoning. I fully understand our need for self care. Still being a new mom, I understand the importance of taking care of myself so that I can take care of Colton. If my tank is empty and I’m constantly running on fumes, there’s no way I can offer what is best to my son. But I fear there’s a big divide between taking care of yourself and this concept of self love.

To me, self love feels indulgent yet isolating. It’s focusing inward and shutting out any external input. It’s easy to close our ears to things we simply don’t want to hear–advice we’d rather not take. This can all be done under the guise of, ‘I’m just loving myself by not letting anyone else influence me.’ Believe me, there have been many ways E has challenged me in our marriage that I would’ve rather shut out. But I’m a better person for listening to his constructive criticism and allowing it to refine me.

In his book A Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren writes this: “Humility is not thinking less of ourself, it’s thinking of ourself less.” This is the most appropriate way I’ve seen to address the self love movement. It’s not one or the other, in that, if we’re not daily and overtly praising ourselves then we’re going to internally crumble. I simply recognize so much power in turning our thoughts outward. We have to take care of ourselves, no argument there. But refinement of our inner being so often comes in the form of community.

This balance takes daily practice. I may be able to write these words but that doesn’t come with mastery of this behavior. I am an ever-constant work in progress. But I strive to be my personal best in a way that is edifying to others.

How do you respond to the idea of self love or self care?

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