By Carmen Law
Self-love is NOT narcissism. NOT vanity. NOT a moral flaw.
It is healthy and a necessity for the mind and body.
A quest for an individual to seek happiness, better well being and a healthier lifestyle. When you love yourself, you accept your flaws and become flexible to healthy adjustments. Not only do you learn to embrace yourself, but you also find the importance of giving yourself a break after a long day of stress and hard work. “Self-compassion is treating yourself with the same kindness and care you’d treat a friend,” says Kristin Neff, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and the leading researcher in the growing field of self-compassion.”
Current trends and natural self-criticism creates opinions where people automatically do not uphold the “perfect image” leading to the lack of self-love because they dislike who they are, based on the public eye. Remember, nobody is perfect. Learn to accept! Everyone has their own imperfections and failures, no matter if it’s Kendall Jenner or the Queen of England. According to Psychology Today, “by remaining calm and understanding in the face of rejection, failure or criticism, we develop level-headedness, strength and emotional stability which allow us to have higher well-being and to be more productive and successful.” Not accepting yourself removes possible changes towards better well-being; therefore, embrace and love who you are! Sometimes your flaws can be what lead you to connect with a community of people empowering them as well.
Though self-love is nourishing and important to practice, people argue that it is selfish. The word selfish in our society offends a person, leading them to believe they are being criticized. Being egotistical is destructive while altruism in excess is unhealthy, which is why selfishness in moderation is critical. Unhealthy selfishness is greedily seizing all the resources for yourself while being ignorant of the necessities of others. On the other hand, “if you selflessly give away all your food and clothes, you will starve and freeze to death.” Healthy selfishness describes the actions of fulfilling the needs of oneself while still being empathetic and considerate of others. That is self-love. “Just like on an airplane when the attendants say you must put your own oxygen mask on before you help others, it’s kind of the same thing with self-love.” The thought of assisting yourself first before others under your care always makes me think it’s unethical. The natural selflessness coming from what I’ve been taught through my culture and what seems “right” often makes me ponder. Is this just me? The habits of aiding others first may describe how you are willing to always be there for others before being there for yourself. This behavior is a good trait but being human, there is always the necessity of being selfish and finding the time and love just for yourself first.
So if self-love describes the commitment of caring, loving and nurturing oneself, why do some people think it’s narcissistic? Society makes the mistake of self-love being narcissistic and that’s why.
Narcissism is the absolute opposite of self-compassion.
Being narcissistic refers to the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Narcissism is a mental illness, self love is caring for yourself and treating yourself like a friend even if you don’t believe you should. Referencing to Mayo Clinic, the “narcissistic personality disorder — one of several types of personality disorders — is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.” Narcissists feel a need of constant validation and bragging to prove their own self worth to others. They hide their insecurities and absence of self-compassion behind their narcissistic behaviors as a mask. Overstating their “great” achievements and talents but secretly fear of public humiliation and their vulnerability. Narcissism is not self-love as narcissists have no sense of healthy self-compassion or even empathy for others!
Psychotherapy is recommended to those suffering from narcissism teaching them to “accept and maintain real personal relationships and collaboration with co-workers, recognize and accept your actual competence and potential so you can tolerate criticisms or failures, increase your ability to understand and regulate your feelings, understand and tolerate the impact of issues related to your self-esteem…”
A person can love someone as much as themselves like a mother to her children because love is so pure and unlimited. Loving someone is important but at the end of the day, that someone has to be you.
So, love yourself.
- Clinic, Mayo. “Stories by Marina Krakovsky.” Scientific American, 2018, www.scientificamerican.com/author/marina-krakovsky/.
- Godfred, Melody. “Self Love vs. Narcissism.” Fred and Far by Melody Godfred, 2018, fredandfar.com/blogs/ff-blog/self-love-vs-narcissism.
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- Krakovsky, Marina. “Self-Compassion Fosters Mental Health.” Scientific American, 1 July 2012, www.scientificamerican.com/article/self-compassion-fosters-mental-health/.
- Oron, Saar. “This Is Why You Can’t Stop Being Selfish.” Medium, The Startup, 3 Jan. 2019, medium.com/swlh/this-is-why-you-cant-stop-being-selfish-3097d2e3cff7.
- Seppala , Emma M. “3 Powerful Science-Based Benefits of a Little Self-Love.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 27 Nov. 2012, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-it/201211/3-powerful-science-based-benefits-little-self-love.
- Solomans , Dr. Kevin. “Self-Love Isn’t Narcissism.” The Power of Low Self-Esteem – Dr Kevin Solomons, 15 Aug. 2016, www.borntobeworthless.com/self-love-isnt-narcissism/.
- Smith, Lindsey. “The Narcissism Debate: Is It Selfish to Love Yourself?” HuffPost,HuffPost, 1 May 2016 www.huffpost.com/entry/the-narcissism-debate-is-it-selfish-to-love-yourself_n_7188840.