I am increasingly convinced that self-love rightly understood can protect us from authoritarianism and domination.
Feeling Nervous About Self-Love
Most of us grow up feeling nervous about self-love, and this is understandable. We learn growing up that selfishness is wrong (and certainly this is true), and that we should think of others instead of ourselves (which is partially right and partially wrong). As a result, many of us feel deeply uncomfortable about the idea of loving ourselves.
Perhaps we are worried that if we love ourselves, we will become self-absorbed, egocentric, and narcissistic. It is no wonder we worry about this. Almost all of the bad and horrible things in the world come from these character problems.
All of us have the potential to be selfish. Being selfish is pretty easy after all. All we have to do is always think solely about our own desires, needs, wishes, and dreams. All we have to do is never think about anyone else or never think about how our actions might affect them. Selfishness is often our default setting, and considering others’ feelings and wishes is a skill we actually have to learn.
Our natural slide to selfishness rightly makes many of us wary of self-love. However, there is a difference between pathological and healthy self-love, and it is important to know the difference.
The Difference Between Pathological and Healthy Self-Love
Pathological self-love is destructive and builds walls between people. Healthy self-love is healing, and it can strengthen our spirits against authoritarianism and domination. Healthy self-love not only allows us to love ourselves well; it allows us to love others well, too.
What exactly is healthy self-love? Healthy self-love honors and nurtures that which is beautiful and good in all of us: Our Light. Everyone human being has this Light.
Our Light is the truest, most real thing about us, so when we honor our Light, we love what is good, true, and real. This kind of self-love does not lead to selfishness and narcissism.
Selfishness and narcissism are rooted in self-deception, lies, and delusion—namely, they are rooted in the idea that we are the center of the universe and more important than everyone else. This is false self-love.
When we practice true self-love and honor our Light, it leads to love more good, true, and real things. Namely, we honor the wisdom, love, compassion, and creativity in ourselves and others, and we seek to make these grow in ourselves and in others in every way possible.
How True Self-Love Works
True self-love does not lead us to be more selfish. It actually leads us to be more loving and to connect with others because we love the Light in others that we also see in ourselves. We want to protect, cultivate, and nurture it.
This kind of self-love acknowledges that we all have a dark side of us. It is not naïve. But it also knows that if we focus on that and not the Light in us, we miss the potential we have to change our lives and the world for the better.
Julia Cameron expresses this well when she writes, “We know right action. We know wisdom. We know divine intent. The world is safe in our keeping. We are loving. We are wise. We are good. We can change our world for the better.”
This type of self-love essential for combating authoritarianism and domination. If we do not honor our Light, we will not believe we have the ability to find solutions, to work for change, to make the world better. If we do not honor our light, we will not believe the people around us have this ability either. Instead, we will believe we have to find some expert, some Great Man to solve all of our problems for us and fix everything.
This type of thinking makes it is much easier for us to tolerate bullies, controllers, and boundary-crashers in our own lives. It also makes it easier for us to accept authoritarian rulers in our country. These people try to convince us that they are the only ones who know how to fix our lives and solve our problems. If we do not honor our Light, we are likely to believe them.
Nurture Your Light
When we have proper self-love, on the other hand, we not only realize that we have the inner resources we need to solve the problems in our world, we realize that we must take personal responsibility to solve them. To fail to do so would be “to hide our light under a bushel”, as the saying goes.
Since every person has a Light, it is our personal and collective responsibility to solve the problems of the world together. While different people will do this in different ways, no one is more important than another person in solving the problems of the world.
Self-love is a super power. It connects us with our Light and the Light in others, and it liberates us from authoritarianism and domination. In this way, self-love allows us to Light up our entire world together.
Love your Light, Friend.
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