Self-love gets a bum rap. Why? It's because of the way we define it as a culture, and since "perception is reality," we start to believe that this is "just the way life is." I looked up the definition of "self-love" on Dictionary.com, and it is defined as:
1. the instinct by which one's actions are directed to the promotion of one's own welfare or well being, especially an excessive regard for one's own advantage.
2. conceit; vanity.
I'm not sure who is behind determining this definition. I can say that when I think about what I was taught and what is today a prevailing way of thinking about "self-love," it is the norm. Yet, when you become self-aware enough, you will begin to see how faulty this kind of thinking really is.
Narcissism and conceit come from a place of judgment, lack thinking, and small mindedness. Only looking out for one's own advantage is not only petty and greedy, it is based in fear and competition. This is not self-love.
As I look around our world, this type of thinking is what has created much of the mess in the world today. I say it stems not from "self-love," but insecurity and "not enoughness." When we don't feel good about ourselves and we are not self-aware at a higher conscious level, the tendency based on our social conditioning is to judge self and others. Self-rejection puts us into self-protection mode. It becomes "all about us." This is not self-love. Notice that it comes via fear and self-rejection. If you think that the negative inner critic is good for your health and well-being, think again. It has been associated in research studies with triggering your stress response. If you think that putting yourself down is protecting you from narcissism and conceit, think again. Selfish behavior and conceit is born from a need to feel "better than other." It is simply a belief in the paradigm of "survival of the fittest"- again, only one possible paradigm.
After all, if you are focused on externals as the gauge of your self-worth, you have to find someone to feel better than. Herein lies the root of the problem. We are constantly looking into our environment to define ourselves.
When we recognize that we are each unique and come from a Creative Source that is an infinite Intelligence, we can begin to reconnect with our own inner, inborn genius. Self-love is simply about embracing who you are as "good enough" or even "more than enough." I have found coming from this awareness that my True Self is more than what I have or do. I have more confidence, clarity, and peace of mind. I am also not concerned with self-comparisons. If someone thinks they are better than me, I can let them keep their delusion. People live with delusions and illusions all the time; that's not my concern. The only person I truly can control is myself, by starting with my own mind. If more people wake up to the importance of self-love they will calm their inner critic, stop living to only "survive," and start to thrive and shine, which is something we all want to different degrees or levels, truth be told. So, regardless of what Dictionary.com says, I disagree.
Self-love is simply self-acceptance and the ability to live at peace within yourself. It comes from a place of being already "okay," with room to continue growing.
Since our inner reality creates our outer experience, self-love is the gateway to more love for others. As we have more self-compassion, we can give others the space to grow, expand, and evolve more freely, as well. This will go a long way toward innovation, relationship building in business and personal life, and even less stress.
Valencia Ray, M.D. teaches business owners and corporate leaders how their amazing brain can actually hijack personal power -- not in the abstract, but in the context of integrating business and personal life. Dr. Ray, a board-certified eye surgeon and medical business owner for over 20 years before selling her practice, shares her own life changing process. By sharing her story, she helps others to expand their vision and learn that by living with purpose and confidence, it is possible to have a more integrated, healthier lifestyle - with less struggle, more inner peace and more abundance.