Thursday, December 04, 2003 - Apache Junction, Arizona, USA


A good friend of mine coughed up one of those trite axioms of pop psychology the other day. It’s very unlike her, but I felt I had to reply to it as it’s one of those li’l issues that really fries my egg. She quoted:

“You must love yourself before you can love anyone else.”

Never has such blatant untruth been spewed out so regularly by so many people who think they know, but know nothing. I am a firm believer in having a healthy self-esteem, but there is a universe of difference between self-love and self-esteem. Self-esteem has to do with how you see yourself. Loving yourself is nothing more than narcissism.

I think all of us have been depressed from time to time. It’s an ugly thing. I want you to think about all those times that you’ve been REALLY depressed, torn up, sad, miserable. There is a similar thread running through these instances. What’s the common denominator each time you’re depressed? What’s the same? YOU are there. You’re focus is on Y-O-U. Big time. “I hate life. I’m hurting,” and so on forever and a day. Sing the song, children, “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I'm gonna eat some worms.”

Now think about those times when you’re truly enjoying life. You are at your happiest. What’s the common denominator this time? You’ve vanished. Your focus is on everyone and everything else. You’re not thinking of yourself at all. Everything but the fun you're enjoying has disappeared from the picture. Sound like an oversimplification? Mayhaps, but all I know is what I see out there. I know a lot of depressed people and I know an equal amout of people who never seem to get depressed. This is the difference I see.

For you Christian shrinks out there that use this idea of the necessity of self love in order to love others, where do you find it in the Bible? It’s not there, admit it. God never said it. Jesus never said it. In fact, he said the exact opposite. Love others. Jesus knew that when the focus is on others you build self-esteem. “Give to the poor. Visit people in prison.” See? Where’s the focus? On others! True givers who expect nothing in return have healthy self-esteems and are rarely depressed. Expectations lead to let downs. Let downs put us in a cycle of self examination and over concentration on self doubt. Self doubts leads to anxiety and depression. Depression leads to suicide.

If you want to be popular, don’t try to be interesting. No one cares who interesting you are. The focus is on you and that’s a turn-off. Be INTERESTED. Focus on others. People like to be cared aobout. That’s a turn-on. Go for it!

©2003 Marcia Ellen "Happy" Beevre
# posted by Marcia Ellen @ 9:29 AM
I just wanted to say that I agree with your ideas against what I would consider narcissism or self-myopia. But I'd also like to point out that the concept of loving oneself really doesn't have to mean obsessing over oneself constantly. Why is it that we seem to be happiest when we "loose ourselves"? I believe it's because it's at those moments when we are truly genuinely comfortable in our own skins, in our own selves. To me that is self-love. That willingness to know all the crap we have wrong with us and enjoy going through life and just being anyway. When we can do this with ourselves, it's easier to have the same "I love all of you no matter what" feelings towards others. It doesn't have to be conscious but it's certainly needed to be there for most of the successful loving relationships I've been in and witnessed (and not just the romantic kind). I think that the Christian church hardly has it right when it comes to this. Perhaps Jesus didn't state it in modern terms but the whole concept of everyone being of one body (I believe the passage says something like "do not say b/c I am an eye and not a hand I am not part of the body") reflects this concept of self-love and love of others. I think the church lost some of that along the way, often pushing people to take on suffering solely to fix their problems (when it most likely won't). I agree with your assessment of narcissism, but I think that self-love is something entirely separate. Thanks!
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