We should love ourselves more
I’m a practicing lawyer handling various cases. I’m also a writer writing on various topics. I’m a constant traveler who has traveled to many countries. But essential and connected to all these — I’m always searching for truth and the meaning of life. Here are some thoughts relevant to this search.
Many believe that the two greatest commandments God gave are 1) love God above everything else and 2) love your neighbor as yourself.
These two commandments are actually three because the second commandment actually directs us to do two things: For us to love our neighbor and also to love ourselves.
The command to love ourselves is very important because if we don’t truly love ourselves in a healthy, none egoistic way, we could wind up destroying ourselves. And if we destroy ourselves, how can we then truly love God and our neighbor?
Filled with all kinds of collective or individual guilt, shame and loneliness, so many people wreck their lives and the lives of others, including those who love them, by resorting to activities that subconsciously manifest their hatred for themselves — alcoholism, drugs, unbridled sex, corruption and other self-destructive activities. For why would an individual who loves himself destroy himself and his loved ones?
Not truly loving one’s self can even be manifested in what may seem to be a noble activity. For instance, a parent might be spending so much time in good works for others while his or her own children are neglected. When such a parent spends an inordinate amount of time helping others at the expense of his or her own family’s welfare, something is wrong. That parent does not have his or her priorities in order. Ego is mostly what causes this kind of disorder – the desire to be praised as a do-gooder, because of some sense of guilt and self-loathing. By hurting our families, we hurt ourselves.
Do good to others, but also be good to yourself. Politicians and very busy professionals and businessmen often fall into the trap of thinking that doing good to others is the reason they are not able to care for their families. God’s commandment is to love others as ourselves. It is not to love others more than ourselves.
All of us actually have an inclination to hate ourselves. None of us are free from some sense of guilt for something we have done and perhaps even for something that we may not have done but somehow feel some responsibility for. Some people feel a terrible sense of shame or guilt for some horrible thing that a relative did of which they absolutely had nothing to do with.
Self-hate extracts a terrible toll on the lives of people. People who hate themselves waste so much of their talent and potentials to do great things.
Take X who is extremely bright. He graduated with honors in a good college and has an MBA in a leading university in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is very good with computers. But sadly, X has been an alcoholic for years. He has been arrested for DUI many times. He cannot keep a job. He tried to run a computer-based business but did not succeed. His wife left him. His children have no respect for him.
He resents others who are more successful than him. Instead of blaming his lack of success on his own individual failings he scapegoats minorities and undocumented immigrants whom he hates with a passion. He blurts out his opinions on every topic during conversations even on things he know nothing about. He tries to reaffirm his self-worth by bragging about his sexual conquests.
He cannot stand being alone or having silent moments for he fears the demons of loneliness and depression that constantly seize him and make his existence a hell on earth. He must constantly drink numb his feelings about himself. He is not aware that his subconscious self-loathing is at the root of his problems.
Living under a cloud of guilt and shame eats at us and destroys us. If we mean well, however, we need to forgive ourselves. In humility and faith, we must trust in the tender mercies of a loving God who also forgives u, like the father of the prodigal son who rejoiced at seeing his sinful offspring return to him. In the first place, this is the very reason He sent his Son to suffer and die for us –that we may be forgiven. Unless we feel ourselves forgiven, we will remain crippled psychologically and spiritually.
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