Many of us realize that taking care of ourselves is important, but we often feel guilty about doing it. We may have gotten used to taking care of others, but feel that it is somehow selfish if we focus on ourselves. But loving yourself is not selfish at all. And here is why:
If you don’t love yourself and just focus on taking care of others – by sacrificing yourself, denying your own needs, and suppressing your wants – you will very likely start to build some resentment. This resentment might come out in different ways: you might feel less patient or have less compassion for others. You might become angry. You might start to feel unhappy, making it harder to stay positive.
And if you continue to press on and really neglect yourself, you might get sick, and now you are really not able to take care of or be there for others anymore. On the contrary, others will now need to start taking care of you. I have seen people get very ill (physically as well as mentally) by trying to sacrifice themselves. So what started out as a good intention ends up not only not helping, but actually creating more work for others.
If you were to love yourself and take very good care of yourself, on the other hand, you would be happier, healthier, more patient, more compassionate, more forgiving, and have more energy. You can now be there and help others much more, while being happy – and who doesn’t want to be with a happy person?
Taking care of yourself and loving yourself is one of the most loving things you can do for others. When you take care of yourself, you are increasing your capacity to take care of people you care about. By taking the time to really nurture yourself and fulfill your needs and follow your passions, you are better able to motivate, inspire, spread joy, and share happiness.
You are not just doing this for yourself. You are doing this for your loved ones, for the people you care about, for everyone you touch with your life. It benefits everyone.
“But won’t it make me conceited if I focus on loving myself?” you may wonder.
Loving yourself does not mean that you are full of yourself, conceited or don’t care about others. Self love means that you accept yourself, are compassionate with yourself, and empower yourself. And that in turn enables you to be more accepting of others, have more compassion for them and empower them.
There are two separate choices: 1. You choose to love yourself or not. 2. You choose to care about others or not.
Once you choose to love yourself, you can also choose to care about others and be there for them. And as we discussed above, once you choose to love yourself, you are in a much better position to help others.
So if anyone around you wonders whether it is okay to take care of themselves by taking time to rest, saying ‘no’ to a request, spending some time away from their children or significant others, practicing a hobby, or taking some time off, please tell them that is not only okay, but it is critical and important they do.
You need to take care of yourself first, so you can be there for others.
And by loving yourself, you are able to bring more love to others.