The journey to embrace self-love and limit my ego continues to bring internal struggles that ultimately lead me to become an enhanced version of myself. The work it takes to delve deep into the shadows of my past often feels like rummaging through a mountain of mess to find a key to unlock yet another lesson, a renewed insight, or a universal truth. However, honoring my Self brings on unexpected external challenges as well. Much like a pebble tossed into the center of a calm pond, adjustments of my own thoughts and actions cause the energies in my environment and the people within it to ripple in kind. And it’s not always as positive as I assume.
Making self-love a priority was a very conscious and deliberate choice I made to feed the yearning for something more in life. It seems to me that there has to be more to life than the pursuit of happiness and prosperity. Unfortunately, this choice may cause some people to find themselves involuntarily caught in the aforementioned ripple of change.
Self-love is beautiful. Self-love is nurturing. Self-love is unconditional. All of this adds profound meaning to my interactions with the world; but in a world that may confuse self-love for egoism. The fine line of distinction includes nuances and paradoxes that can lead to sometimes painful misunderstandings.
Here, I offer clarity from my humble experience of the differences between self-love and egoism.
- Self-love allows for me to share abundance while ego hoards excess. When I fully accept and love my Self, my heart overflows with enough love that I must share it. If my heart is lacking, my ego is so busy trying to get love that I’m not able to give it. Releasing the dependence on someone else to give me the love I need or deserve puts me in control of my own fulfillment. In turn, it frees others from the expectation or responsibility to complete me.
- Self-love requires moments of solitude while ego seeks isolation. In solitude there exists a peace that creates deep connection to my authentic being. The nuance is subtle but isolation implies separateness, a sense of “leave me alone” or “get away from me.” Sitting with Self in solitude, by contrast, provides me access to the invisible ties that bind us all. Solitude is necessary nourishment for maintaining a link to others.
- Self-love let’s go of judgement while ego clings to comparisons. Ironically, Self-love reminds me of all the ways that my Being is uniquely me; yet it also reveals how much I am you. When I have unconditional love for myself, I can go beyond all the external layers and see myself in you. The ego continuously compares the external to seek elevation above the other to achieve validation.
- Self-love is magnanimous while ego is self-serving. Self-love is about being a better me in order to make a meaningful contribution to relationships and the communities in which I exist and hold space. It’s not about me. It’s about how I connect and serve others. Ego is all about “what’s in it for me.”
- Self-love seeks to accept while ego seeks to be accepted. Again, much like the sentiments in #1 above, self-acknowledgement of my worth unleashes me from relying upon approval from others. I’m fully available to receive others without the burden of demanding something from them. Ego, unfulfilled, will look for, ask for, and even beg for recognition from extrinsic sources.
The paradox now becomes glaring. The path to selflessness is through selfishness. Self-love is a selfish act NOT in a self-centered way but rather in an “other-centered” way. Now I am better able to love others without judgement, without expectations, and without limitations because I love myself more than I ever have before. And if this is indeed a universal truth, I will continue to deepen my love for me and for you.