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Self-Love – is it safe and healthy? – Part 1

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval”

–         Mark Twain (American humourist famous for his novel, The adventures of Huckleberry Finn, popularly called as ‘The great American novel’)

 “I need an honest feedback because I want to improve”, said a young monk after his first class to our community members. I foolishly believed him and candidly pointed out his mistakes. Later I heard from a friend that he was distraught at my sharp observations. ‘But he asked for it’ I thought but soon realized I had been insensitive; he needed encouragement and love. Besides, his desire to get my frank opinion was a veil; behind those words was a silent scream, “Please love me, and encourage me.”

Longing of the heart                                    

How often in our social interactions our heart is craving for acceptance. We expect the world to shower us with abundant love and accept us for who we are and what we do. But when the reciprocation doesn’t come, we feel let down.

If this happens to you often, you have let others decide your happiness and self-worth.

The solution is simple: love and accept yourself; seek validation from your own heart.

I can hear your doubt: Can we love ourselves without being an ego maniac? After all hubris has got men for millennia; how often we see men overrate their abilities so far that they lose touch with ground reality. I have often been challenged if self-love wouldn’t lead to over-the-top self-confidence, and friends in monastery often quote the age old maxim, Pride cometh before the fall. Further, most religious traditions cite examples of saints who loathed their own existence. Their prayers reveal deep lamentation, and many preachers encourage us to meditate on our own inadequacies.

I generally respond to these fears with a counter question:  Can you criticize yourself without getting into depression? What’s the guarantee that if you reflect on your failings you wouldn’t slip to hopelessness, which is simply another side of the hubris coin. Isn’t that also a case of ego obsession- about how ‘I’ am bad; ‘I’ remains the centre here too?To be continued…

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