Oscar Wilde playwright wrote, “To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance”. As certain as death and taxes is the certainty that you will be your own companion until you die. There is no other person or living thing that will have that privilege. It makes perfect sense then, to love yourself? For all your life?
Why is Self-Love So Important?
A couple of years ago, I was having lunch with Susan. She has a wonderfully, authentic personality. You know the kind who never has an opinion that she cannot share? I was chatting to her about how much I wanted to pack in to my son’s life. As a Type ‘A’ personality, I had even set goals like, we would travel to 18 countries before he turned 18. I told her my time with him was limited for soon he would be off to university. Susan listened. Then she asked “Sharon, why do you have such low self – esteem?” Her question startled me. She was right! Why was I afraid that when my son went off he would forget me? He would deem me irrelevant? He would no longer need me?
I want to shuffle your thinking
about what opens up for you,
when you love yourself.
I will do this by sharing what
opened up for me when I learned
to love myself the way I am.
To get things out of the way, self-love is not ‘me, me, me’ like a baby who cannot see past the need for food, or to drool or to poo. Self-love is not ‘me first’ like a toddler throwing tantrums. Self-love is an attitude; it is a way of perceiving the world from a place of deep happiness within you. Self-love means that you accept yourself, warts and all, and that you are squeezing every last drop from every day of your life.
You die slowly, when…
You might be wondering, so? So what? Why should I care? You should care because you have to actively choose self-love. It is not innate or inevitable. It is always, but always, your deliberate choice. If you do not choose it, you will slowly die. I cannot better the words of the Brazilian poet Martha Medeiros when she said: “You die slowly when you are unhappy at work, or do not follow a dream that keeps you awake. You die slowly when you pass your days complaining or do not find grace within yourself. You die slowly, when you do not travel, or do not read, or do not listen to music. You die slowly when you do not remember that there is more to life than just breathing.”
Why are you so happy?
When you choose self-love, every day is a day to celebrate being alive! As though it is a miracle that a new day has dawned! You count the ways that you experienced joy or the number of times you answer the question, “Why are you so happy?” You savour the moments when you can say “thank you”. You marinate in the love when your friend tells you “Thank you for being a big plus in my life”. You know that feeling when you first drove your car? Or you got that promotion at work? Or found that scrunched up 500 bob note in your pocket that you had forgotten about? Or as a teenage girl when the boy you like tells you, he likes you back? Those are good feelings and that is what self-love feels like.
How I Love Myself
My lesson with self-love showed up for me as a parent. I worried about my son. I worried about using the stick, for didn’t CNN tell me I could smack the gray matter out of his brain? I worried about offering too many carrots, for wouldn’t he turn orange? I worried – did that 40% in English mean that I let him play too much? And the guilt, when I had to say no and other parents had said yes. I worried, would my son blame me for not providing him with a two parent home like his friends?
It is said that when the student is ready the master appears. My master turned out to be Diggy – my childhood friend since we were six years old. Diggy had just read the book “One Month to Live” by Kerry and Chris Sook. She asked my support in attempting the thirty challenges in the book. One was “if you only had 30 days to live, what would you do?” I knew what I would do: I would wear a bikini to soak up the sun in Mauritius, Barbados or Bahamas. So, why hadn’t I? Diggy, is a consultant in the spa industry. She had to ask herself, why was she was telling people how to run a spa and not running her own? Diggy’s spa opened in February 2016. Yours truly went on her island holiday in 2015.
Pressing the pedal to the metal
How do we feel? I shall use car metaphors. We feel, like we are living life at full throttle! We feel, like we are pressing the pedal to the metal! Not to belabor the point but just to bring it home – we feel like we are firing on all cylinders! Who the heck knows what we will do now? But as long as Diggy and I are marching to our own rhythm, the more musical our legacies shall be.
Susan’s question, made me face my own self-rejection as a single parent. Nowadays, when I say I want my son and I to travel to 18 countries, what I mean is – I want us to share adventures that’ll last our lifetime. Like the time I made him eat cheese fondue and for weeks he told everyone I had made him eat cheese with alcohol! Or the first time that we played together in the ocean or rode our first roller coaster. Or that time in the forest lodge when I opened the cupboard and a squirrel jumped out scaring the life out of me! He laughed for days. Or that heart-breaking time when the airport police confiscated his brand new toy-gun.
Travelling is not easy. I had to give up soooo much. I had to give up worrying about having sufficient leave days. I always do. I had to give up worrying about keeping up with my work and board commitments. I always have. I had to give up worrying about the wisdom of saving for travel rather than rainy days. It hasn’t rained. I had to give up worrying about what family, friends and you think about my choices. Not. My. Business. I had to reach dangerously awesome levels of self-love. Turns out, Ms Turner, self-love has everything to do with it.
Something special happened a couple of weeks ago. My son shared with me a video by the vlogger, Superwoman, who has 8 Million subscribers. She was talking about types of parents and my son wanted me to know that I am a “Cool Cat”. I am beyond proud! Is my life perfect? No. There are things that I am changing. But I do enjoy seeing the world and I share my joy with my boy. If from my example he chooses to love himself – then he will be who he is perfectly; he will stay within his own integrity; and he will navigate his own life with dignity.
If There Is One Thing You Get, Let It Be This!
Alan Watts, a British born philosopher, asked, if money were no object, are you living your life the way that you want; are you doing what you really want to do; are you spending your days as you desire with whom you desire? If you can answer yes, yes, yes and yes, then you understand self-love. Congratulations! If you answer no, Alan Watts would eloquently tell you, “That’s stupid!” Think about it this way: you are always with yourself? Right? Then it wasn’t rhetoric when Buddha said “You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire Universe, deserve your own love and affection.”
Sharon L M Maviala is a Corporate Entrepreneur, MBA, LLB, Advocate and Certified Public Secretary.
You can link up with her via: email@example.com