Monday, April 19, 2021

Loving Yourself

The statement used to come up frequently, but I haven't heard in in ages - well, in order to love others, you have to love yourself.  Of course, I don't run in circles where such vacuities would be said (that is a salute to not only my online but my realspace friends) anymore.

It is less than half true.  Like all dangerous thoughts, it contains enough truth to suck us in, so that "even the elect would be deceived." It's maybe 30% true. Those consumed with self-hatred cannot well-love others, yes.  But it is mostly just an excuse for people to say "I'm going to work on loving myself for the next decade, then get back to you." 

A better understanding is that it takes self-knowledge to love others.

I almost went down the trail of self-respect as a foundation for loving others, but that is merely closer, not the full effect. Self-respect is the true answer to those who advocate for self-esteem, which is not only an inadequate, but an actually destructive goal, as it depends entirely on others - or depends on self-delusion.  That is a related question, but not quite the same.

If you run across that "love yourself first" doctrine, I am hopeful that the correction to "know thyself," if delivered gently, might be heard.


Christopher B said...

I think it's morphed into 'self-care' but with the same basis, that you (especially women) can't appropriately care for others until you've taken care of yourself.

Korora said...

And there appears to be an unspoken idea out there to the effect that you cannot look after others' well-being competently unless you make your own sexual desires a higher priority.

Yeah. Tell that to Jimmy Savile's victims.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Ouch. But fair. I had completely forgotten about him.

james said...

Where in Lewis' Four Loves does "loving yourself fit?"
Affection? I'm kind of used to me, so maybe yes.
Friendship? Nah, I don't open new vistas in myself by myself.
Eros? No. (Is that Bruce Jenner's problem?)
Agape? Self-sacrificial love for yourself seems a little contradictory.

james said...

Actually, now that I think of it, he also divided them into need-loves and appreciation-loves.
Wrt need-love, I think it safe to say that I can't live without me. (Though maybe Romans 7 suggests there might be another way)
Wrt appreciation-loves; I can see a little of that in small doses so long as I don't let it leak out how nice I think I am...

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Lewis wrote about understanding what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves, and mentioned that we feed ourselves and make sure we are warm even we we don't like ourselves much or think we deserve it. So it should be with our neighbor.

Sam L. said...

I don't "love" myself, but I get along OK with myself.

Texan99 said...

We should at least take care of our own basic needs so that others don't have to step in and rescue us all the time--assuming we're not actually mortifying our own needs and preparing to do without permanently, without complaint and without expecting rescue.

Jordan Peterson recommends taking as good care of ourselves as we would take of someone for whom we'd accepted a fiduciary responsibility. That doesn't mean self-indulgence, it means making responsible choices with due regard for morality and prudence. It probably means deferring gratification, living within our means, and staying out of needless trouble. You could call it tough love: treating ourselves and our needs with some patience and dignity, just because we're a human we have to deal with, and avoiding rancor or punitive judgment.

Lewis often cautioned that treating someone kindly, even when he's screwing up royally, doesn't mean pretending he hasn't done anything wrong or declining to interfere with his evil plans. It just means not nursing a grudge, or enjoying his comeuppance, or basking in a complacent glow because we're better than he is. You can shoot a rabid dog without wanting him to suffer. You can even love a rabid dog without shrinking from the absolute need to put him down.

Sam L. said...

I don't "love" myself, but I get along with me pretty well. Dose that make me washy-willy?