Why is self-acceptance and self-love so difficult?
Maybe I’m afraid I will turn into Narcissus, the Greek hunter who fell in love with his own image and acted with disdain to love from others.
Love is God and God is love. So there can be no harm in loving oneself from what i see. Narcissus was proud, and fell in love with his image but not with his true self, which he probably did not take the time to discover. And he shunned the love of others, which indicates a feeling of superiority. Who does not need love? Narcissists and other people who are self-harming and harm others do not have any self-love, they have self-hatred and self-loathing. The inflated ego is a facade to protect their fragile self-image and inferiority complex. If they had true love, they would not self-hate. Light casts out darkness, just like love casts out hate. Love does not hurt intentionally. It is its expression through filters of past wounds which is projected into current relationships that can be hurtful and damaging. Love does not boast, it is patient, forgiving. So obviously Narcissus did not have love. He was closed within his own self, and when he realized how limited that world truly is, that it cannot provide him with the love he truly needed, he despaired. I believe that he was infatuated with himself and proud of his gift of beauty, yet he did not truly love himself as a whole person.
If he wanted to truly knew himself, he would have needed to go through self-acceptance first, because humans and even mythological characters like him are quite dark and imperfect by nature. I think that God hides our ugliness even from us, until we are strong enough to face it. And then He gives us the strength to look at it compassionately.
Self-love, in the true sense is knowing who we truly are deep down by discovering the darkness and the imperfections within, accepting them, handing them over to God and cherishing ourselves anyway. Accepting that human condition we all share. Accepting that we are not who we thought we were. Coming to terms with reality and validating our insignificance in this world. If you or I were gone tomorrow the world would still turn, people would continue living their lives. We might be missed, but really, the planet would keep doing what it is doing. And the same is true for any human, no matter how rich or powerful. Or how poor, or how significant one might believe they are to humanity. Letting go of this responsibility for the world is freeing. Giving up control of what was never in my control anyways is liberating. Not worrying about pleasing anybody is great. Doing what I please in life and not seeking approval is edifying.
If I truly loved myself, I would be cognizant of my human weaknesses and limitations. I would turn towards the true source of love in order to teach me how to love myself and fulfill the void. My inner child would then be appeased as well, because that’s what it really wants, to be accepted unconditionally and loved and cared for with compassion.
If I love myself, and accept myself, then I can more easily accept and love others. But feeling true love can be scary at first, especially since we are not used to the unconditional divine kind. Is it normal to feel this good inside? Yes. Do I deserve to be loving and compassionate to my inner child ? Of course. But its still hard. It feels unfamiliar. It feels warm and good. It is amazing.
“If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.3”
Self-love does not lead to narcissism in my opinion. On the contrary, narcissism and pride develop out of flattery, vainglory – or empty praise – and an inaccurate self-image. Whenever someone is flattered or complimented continuously, if they do not give glory to God for their talents, they can fall into pride, thinking they are better than others.
Lucifer the fallen angel was the most beautiful of angels. He was created by God, yet forgot about that it seems. His beauty procured him pride, and he wanted to be greater than God. So he was thrown from he highest high to the lowest low, which is what often happens when someone becomes prideful.
Yet the opposite of pride is not self-hate. It is humility. And humility is not self-hate. It can be a compassionate awareness of the lack of humility. One doesn’t need to torture themselves or cast themselves down to acquire humility, nor hate themselves for not having it. Indeed not many people do. Even the poor can boast about something. Is is much simpler to ask God, it is a gift. And if one thinks they are humble, they are obviously not. For what humble saint boasted of his humility?