Do You Love Yourself?

©AbigailBadu

Silence is a gift. Solitude is a gift. Love is a gift. You are a gift.

In a world filled with schedules and activities which take up the 16 hours of the day we have (8 of our 24 is for sleep), it is rare to find a moment, only 10 minutes to step away, breath, gather your thoughts, and pour back into yourself. Hence, why I'm feeling grateful at this very moment.

Sitting here allowing the wind to blow underneath the coily curls on my head as it also cools down my body in this 91-degree weather on this hot July day, I'm remembering how a year ago being able to make time for myself and enjoy my company purposefully was something I had put on the back burner. Though, here, I am doing what my soul is requesting. And as I'm typing these words to you all, I am yet again reminded of the question that has been repeating in the back of my mind:

"Do you love yourself?"

Practice this with me:

Close your eyes. Relax. Breath and fill your lungs with as much air as possible. Then, like a balloon, gently release all the air. Let's do that about four more times.

How do you feel? Loose? Comfortable? Now, I want to ask you a question, and I want you to say the first thing that comes to mind. Speak your truth.

"Do you love yourself?"

If your answer involved a forceful response, if your octave was higher than your natural tone, we should talk.

If your answer seemed forced as if there were a point to be proven, we should talk.

If your answer continued with explanations that involved your character, traits, or reasons that you wanted to give to why you love yourself, then we should chat.

If your answer sounded fickle (a yes, but shaky, a maybe, a sort of, or a no), we should talk.

Recently, I have been asking people this question. And before asking others, I asked myself (I'll tell you what my first answer was at the end of this post). Whether it was a friend or family member, a stranger, or a coworker, I would bring up this question throughout my conversations. The overall responses were, "yes but," "yes because," "I think I do," "I don't know," and "sort of." There has yet to be a definitive yes, no reasons, no excuse, just yes.

When I noticed that there wasn't a definitive yes, I began asking people and myself why we don't love ourselves or why this simple question is harder to answer than it ought to be. Some people got defensive and insisted on proving to me that they indeed loved themselves. Others started listing all the good traits they possess ( some characteristics were what people had told them not what they had learned about themselves) while trying to seem as humble as possible. Some people would even answer the question with a question, "do you love yourself, Abigail?"

“Yes,” he said. He paused, then added, “Yes ... definitely.” There was a quiet sincerity in his voice that left no doubt— a sincerity that was reflected in his expression and in his eyes.”

Dalai Lama

What fascinates me is the difficulty this simple question presents. (Now, knowing me, be mindful that I have yet to have mastered this question or the depth to which the reasons that were given to me have. But I'm learning and growing daily.) How is it possible that a straightforward question such as "do you love yourself," can be complicated? I thought of two reasons why we overcomplicate this question (there might be more so go ahead and share them in the comment section) :

Foreign Question:

We don't ask ourselves this question, at least not as often. When you are asked something that you have yet to prepare for or have never experienced, it can be challenging to give the best answer to. But that's the concern, what is the best answer to this question? Is there a correct answer?

We Are Overthinking Our Answers:

In a world were we prioritize the reactions of others over our truths, we become confused. Self-inflicted confusion is the result of allowing the voices outside to influence the powerful voice that our Creator has given us. Just as when asked ketchup or mustard (I'm going for mustard all the way, no me gusta ketchup) I can provide the same answer, no reasons behind it, this should be the answer to this simple questions.

As much as I want to dissect and navigate through the complexities as to why the simple question of "do you love yourself," has become an overlooked and a difficult question, I don't believe the reason for the complexity is a one size fits all. We have all come from different walks of life. We've experienced growth in many ways. Ultimately, we want to share and love one another. Our stories and the lenses in which we look through life are different, but we are beautiful souls with colorful stories. Of course, our answers wouldn't be the same for many questions. However, because of the beauty in which we all possess and because we are made one by the One, there is nothing to not love about ourselves.

Do you love yourself?

As the wind stills and the heat produced by the sun glides on my copper and chocolate toned skin, I will share with you what I have learned since asking myself this question.

Do I love myself?

Yes.

Did I always love myself? Why?

No. I forgot at many times who I am and allowed everything outside of me to dictate who I am and how I see myself. Ultimately, I forgot me while choosing everyone else but me.

Why Do I Believe This Question is Difficult for Many?

At the core of who we are, I believe that there is beauty in us. Though similar to the overused quote, just because there is beauty in us doesn't mean we can see. We allow the junk and judgment of others and ourselves to cloud our view of who we are. It is only at the moment when we allow ourselves to meet ourselves that we begin the process of loving ourselves. We must face ourselves, and many are afraid to do so.

Though this conversation will continue, let me leave you with this passage.

According to the Dalai Lama,

"One great question underlies our existence," the Dalai Lama had said before the trip. "What is the purpose of life? After much consideration, I believe that the purpose of life to find happiness. It doesn't matter whether one is a Buddhist like me, or a Christian like the Archbishop, or any other religion, or no religion at all. From the moment of birth, every human being wants to discover happiness and avoid suffering. No differences in our cultures or our education or our religion affect this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire joy and contentment. But so often these feelings are fleeting and hard to find, like a butterfly that lands on us then flutters away. The ultimate source of happiness is within us. No money, not power, not status. Some of my friends are billionaires, but they are very unhappy people. Power and money fail to bring inner peace. Outward attainment will not bring real inner joyfulness. We must look inside. Sadly, many of the things that undermine our joy and happiness we create ourselves. Often it comes from the negative tendencies of the mind, emotional reactivity, or from our inability to appreciate and utilize the resources that exist within us. The suffering from a natural disaster we cannot control, but the suffering from our daily disaster we can. We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives, and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people. When it comes to personal happiness, there is a lot that we individuals can do."

- Dalai Lama

Until next time...

- 🌿 Abigail


Citation:

Cutler, Howard. “Art of Happiness in a Troubled World.” Art of Happiness in a Troubled World, by Dalai Lama , Doubleday Books, 2008, pp. 37–37.

Dalai Lama. “Arrival: We Are Fragile Creatures.” The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, Avery, 2016, p. 14.