Last week for Valentine’s Day I wrote about four guideposts on the path to a more nourishing kind of love, the first of which was self-love. As someone who has battled depression, shame, and low self-esteem, I’m no stranger to the impatient eye rolls that the concept of self-love is often met with. However, since I understand eye-rolls to be an expression of sarcasm and sarcasm to be an expression of fear, I take inspiration from Joseph Campbell, who said, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” So today I’d like to talk about what self-love means, and why it’s important to our ability to love in general.
The first three guideposts are about staying grounded in self-love despite the inevitable fluctuations and murmurings of our minds and bodies. Once this kind of self-love is being practiced consistently, and we become aware of how many internal obstacles stand between us and true happiness, a natural compassion at the tragicomedy of human existence begins to build. We begin to see that these obstacles to inner peace are not unique to us as individuals but are a part of the human condition. The recognition that we are all just doing our best with what we know in order to be happy and avoid suffering can be heartbreaking, and the only natural next step is to commit oneself to universal love and selfless service of others.