In this society we have a tortured relationship with the idea of liking ourselves (let alone loving ourselves!).
I recently pulled this image off Instagram of yet another reminder of the meme that if you think or focus on yourself, you are selfish and probably mentally unstable – as in being a narcissist.
No one wants to be caught dead being described with the words “self-centered” and “selfish” or being accused of being a narcissist (well, actually a real narcissist couldn’t care less).
But we’re making a tragic mistake in confusing/conflating the idea of liking yourself with the notion that if I do like and approve of myself, I’m somehow mentally unstable.
To give you a better idea of this, let me differentiate between the two
Being a narcissist: “narcissistic personality disorder” is one of several types of personality disorders. It’s a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for excessive attention and admiration. They lack empathy for others, which fosters a universe of troubled relationships.
Authentically liking yourself: This is a transcendent level of emotional growth for a person recovering from self-doubt and shame. Shame is a reflection of low self-worth that was baked into us generally in our early years when the message from caregivers was that we didn’t matter, that we were stupid or defective in some way and, ultimately, unworthy of love. (Narcissists suffer from lack of love too but they went the other direction.)
Often you find the former (the narcissist) manipulating the latter (those with feelings of unworthiness). And that’s where I believe this sweeping condemnation of “approving of ourself” has gotten bastardized.
The human condition is one where we do things to seek approval and avoid doing things that will cause rejection (as we learned from difficult childhood years). For those of us controlled by our feelings of Shame, we are in constant search of external approval. Narcissists are specialists in manipulating using their approval; they’re often charming and charismatic. So if I have feelings of unworthiness, I am prime material for a narcissist to come in and bend me to his/her will. Get it?
So this thing about liking ourself needs to be clarified
I have healed myself from deep feelings of self-loathing and self-hatred stemming from a very abusive childhood. It was only upon doing Emotional Liberation® work that I began to see my own goodness and how lovable I actually am. I now navigate through life in clear centered clarity knowing that I am a good person and worthy of others’ love because I love myself.
It’s true you know, we can only love others to the degree that we love ourself. And the more we love ourself the more we shine outward and people are naturally drawn to our beacon of love. That’s why I teach this stuff:)
So go forward with the mission of learning what it takes to like and love yourself.
I invite you to connect with me for any questions you might have.
With Love, Becca