I am sure we have all heard someone say, ‘She loves herself,’ in a tone that shows the speaker believes this to be a bad thing. However, it is important that we do love ourselves. Loving yourself does not mean that you think you are better, smarter or nicer looking than everyone else. In the 1950s the social philosopher and psychologist, Erich Fromm, suggested that self love involves knowing and respecting oneself and caring for and taking responsibility for oneself. When you love yourself, you can also feel love for others and accept them as they are.
One day I wandered into a beautiful shop full of positive books, fragrant candles and interesting necklaces. I bought a delightful book called, ‘When I loved myself enough’. It was written by a woman called Kim McMillen, published by Pan Macmillan Australia. Kim died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 52, shortly after finishing the book. The book is simple but has a real strength about it. In the forward, McMillen says she did not know how to feel compassion and love for herself until she was about forty and then over the next twelve years she learnt to love herself.
I would like to share this quote from the book which may resonate with other writers, ‘When I loved myself enough I started writing about my life and views because I knew this was my right and my responsibility.’ When we don’t love ourselves or trust our own perceptions we feel we don’t have anything worthwhile to share with others. We also fear others may not agree with us. When we love ourselves enough we know we have ideas worth expressing. We don’t fear differing opinions. Instead we are prepared to listen to the views of others and accept them for what they are, different views.
I also love this quote, ‘When I loved myself enough I stopped trying to banish the critical voices from my head. Now I say, “Thank you for your views” and they feel heard. End of discussion.’ What a calm way of dealing with the inner critic. It does not suggest one feel silly or inadequate for having negative thoughts. There is no suggestion of having a fight with your inner critic. It does not give instructions for some major activity in an attempt to banish the inner critic for ever. You just acknowledge the thought and let it go. I like the idea.
This book is full of simple thoughts and is like a breath of fresh air. Another positive idea is, ‘When I loved myself enough I quit rehashing the past and worrying about the future which keeps me in the present where aliveness lives.’ This is a lovely way of expressing the need to live in the moment to feel truly alive.
McMillen ends her book by saying, ‘When I loved myself enough I found my voice and wrote this little book.’ When each one of us loves ourselves enough we can achieve what we feel inspired to do. We will no longer be held back by all the fears that we aren’t good enough.
I particularly enjoyed the idea of quietly thanking my inner critic for the views expressed and moving on. ( An amusing aside: as I typed this comment I was going to use the masculine pronoun for my inner critic, but then realised it is MY inner voice and therefore feminine. Still that initial thought has left me with something to gently ponder!)