I remember back in high school someone told me I was being a selfish bitch. I was devastated. I went home crying to my mom.
I think that was the straw that broke the camels back. That was the point when I started compensating in life. From there on I went out of my way to make sure no one could ever call me selfish again. I became a people pleaser.
What a bad life choice that was!
Fast forward fifteen years and now I’ve found myself a self-love advocate, working to empower women to realize it’s completely okay to put themselves first. In fact it’s not only okay, it’s vitally important to one’s survival.
And yet, without fail, every single time I put up a post about putting yourself first, loving yourself, or setting boundaries and saying no to others, I inevitably have someone comment about how the last thing this world needs is another narcissist who’s self involved.
You see, as a society we’ve fallen so out of touch with listening to our bodies (and hearts) and so into people pleasing behaviour that we can’t see the difference between self-love and narcissism.
So please, allow me to differentiate. Self love is the ability to listen to one’s self (whether you want to call it listening to your body, your heart, soul, higher spirit, the universe, your inner Divine Goddess – I don’t care, just listen!), and say no to the things that hurt or damage us. It’s the ability to discern what is important and necessary for our lives, for our happiness and success, and what is simply wasting our time. To be self-loving means that when you say no to others, it’s because it’s the right thing for you and for them. To be self-loving also means that we believe whole-heartedly in ourselves and in our abilities. It also means that we actively pursue our passions.
Narcissism, on the other hand, is about being so focused on yourself and your own goals, that you don’t mind stepping on other people on your way up the ladder. Narcissists truly don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves, where people who practice self-love care about the impact they have on others and always want to show up as their best selves.
In today’s society practicing self-love can be seen as selfish. But I’m going to throw a “radical” suggestion out there –
Not practicing self-love is the most selfish thing you can do.
I came across this realization one day when I was meditating:
“Where would I be in a year if I truly believed in myself for 365 days straight and stopped sabotaging myself and playing small? What could I create? How many people’s lives could I have touched?”
I strongly believe that each and every one of us has a unique gift. A gift that is ours alone to share with the world. Sure, it might look similar to someone else’s gift, but no one else shares our exact journey.
And so, the ripple effect of me not loving myself enough to take action on my passion is that I allow other people to stay stuck, playing small in their lives. By not sharing my gifts with the world, the people whose lives I’m meant to touch and inspire may not realize their unique talents.
Now more than ever, this world needs the hope, joy and love that come from watching others shine, and being inspired to do the same.
How can we expect to change the world if we’re not willing to look inside and change ourselves?
Loving oneself, then, is not selfish. How dare we hide ourselves? How dare we not share our gifts with the people in the world who need it?
There are people in this life I believe we are destined to meet, people whose lives we’re meant to touch, to change. And by choosing to play small, we choose the sliding door moment that tends towards darkness, despair and emptiness.
If we choose instead to move forward boldly, regardless of how much our knees shake, we would choose the doorway to happiness, love and fulfillment.
Divine selfishness or divine happiness.
The choice is ours. We were given these gifts to mine and cultivate within ourselves, not to keep them hidden, buried under layers of emotions, doubt and fear.
How do we move from here to there? How do we go from stuck to flowing? Fear to surrender? Lack to abundance?
We pay attention to the signs from the universe. We open our eyes, our hearts and our awareness to the signs around us. They may come weekly or daily, heck they may come hourly, but I promise they are there.
We reconnect with our bodies and our intuition. We know and trust that the answers are within for each of us. If something doesn’t feel good is it because it’s wrong for us? Or is it our fear wanting to keep us “safe”? Is it uncomfortable because we’re outside our comfort zone or are others trying to push us back into our box so we don’t make them uncomfortable?
Then we take a step. We commit. We put one foot in front of the other and trust that the rest of the road will reveal itself to us through the fog when the time is right. As the old saying goes:
Until one commits oneself, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Always ineffectiveness. The moment one definitely commits then providence moves to.
We need to BELIEVE first and then we will see the road. Not the other way around.
Finally, we allow ourselves to rest. Mining our gems and allowing the universe to flow through us is a process that requires a lot of energy. Moving into manic, workaholic behaviour is just another way we self sabotage, disguised as taking action. It’s incredibly important to our journey that we schedule in rest time for the next week, month, year. We need nourish our bodies and minds, keeping them supple and strong for the journey ahead.
No matter what your purpose in this life is, no matter how big or small your goals are; I beg you – please share it with the world. You’ll leave us all better for it!