The game goes like this: Take a piece of paper and a pen and start writing things down that you love. Keep going until you run out of ideas.
There appears to be one thing that most people either forget or don’t consciously recognize: Themselves.
I played the game and I fell in to the same trap. Despite the fact that I fully believe that in order to truly love another, you need to first love yourself, I also didn’t list myself.
I personally believe that some of us really don’t love ourselves. On the other hand, there is also the social aspect: That you are considered selfish or narcissistic if you do love yourself. Even in our highly individual-oriented capitalist culture, looking out for number one carries a negative stigma.
In my opinion, the problem is twofold:
- Love is considered to be a state where you treat the object of love higher than other things and therefore sacrifice or take away from those things in order to fuel the love.
- Loving one self therefore necessarily means that you will treat others badly in order to give yourself a better life.
I think that these two precepts are false.
Firstly, love is not a zero-sum game. You do not need to take away from something in order to feed love to something else. Love is an emotion or state of mind and I’m pretty certain that there is no limit to it that you can use up. I have for instance never heard of anyone claiming that due to a loving, childhood, that they’ve run out of there reserves of love and can no longer love. In fact, I believe that it’s more the exact opposite – the more love you have and experience, the easier it is and the more you can love.
Secondly, that we have falsely compounded self-love and selfishness. The two are not linked. The first is more an acceptance and recognition of oneself and one’s self-worth. The second is more a self-reverence and the belief that you deserve more, even at the expense of others.
Even more than that, my experience is that those with self-love tend to be more compassionate and kind to others whereas those that are selfish actually dislike themselves and attempt to make up that self-worth through taking it from others and/or putting themselves in higher sociopolitical positions where they attribute their worth through their position rather than through themselves – hence such people will tend to do nasty things to others in order to maintain or improve their position.
This ties in for me to the Buddhist philosophy of attachment causing suffering. The reliance on something ephemeral and external such as position will necessarily cause you personal suffering (never mind any pain caused to others along the way). Even if you never lose your position, fear of losing it will cause stress to yourself as well as encourage actions that belittle or disadvantage others in order to try and prop up your idea of security or advancement. Envy of others in higher positions will cause yourself to feel worth less in their presence, therefore giving yourself a feeling of not being good enough and often encouraging you to find and highlight flaws in others in order to convince yourself and others that they don’t really deserve their position and that “proves” that you are still better than them.
With a single point, I want to show that you cannot rely on others for your own self-worth (and self-love): You are the only person with whom you must live your entire life.
Placing your worth outside of yourself means that when that is gone – you are worthless. Ouch.
Be someone you can love. Then you will be loved for every second of your entire life.