Updated: Jan 24, 2022
“You know, a lot of people don’t love themselves. And they go through life with deep and haunting emotional conflicts. So the length of life means that you must love yourself. And you know what loving yourself also means? It means that you’ve got to accept yourself.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
This is the ultimate task of your life: to "love yourself"...despite how society portrays people like you...despite messages you may have received from your family of origin...and despite the experiences you've had that made you feel small. You must "love yourself" and in doing so, "accept yourself".
The mistake we make is loving ourselves in spite of others. We do this when we judge or condemn others in order to prop ourselves up. We blame others or circumstances for our inability to be happy, healthy or prosperous. But the truth is, the act of placing people and things at fault is an efficient way to avoid the hard work of dealing with our stuff. If for example, you blame your boss for your unhappiness, then you don't have to do the hard work of figuring out why they trigger you, seeing the humanity in them (aka wondering what happened to them) and/or finding another job. When you choose to use others to dictate how you feel about yourself, you lose your sense of self and ultimately, your power.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. understood this so well. He faced constant degradation his whole life, but focused on loving himself by educating himself, living his truth, trusting in a power higher than himself and lifting others. Because he loved and accepted himself (saw himself as God saw him), he was unwilling to compromise his integrity in the face of brutal opposition. THIS is his ultimate lesson.
Do not use other's opinions to determine your worth. The worst thing you can do is meet hate with hate all for the sake of trying to proving your worth to them. This is the whole "my opinion matters more than yours" war that our country is currently engaged in. Underneath this veil of polarization is a collective desire to be seen, heard and valued. The struggle stems from looking outward for validation instead of looking inward to love and accept oneself. This also stems from a lack of faith. (Here me out, I'm a former atheist) You can imagine a higher power however you want, but you.have.got.to. learn to trust in something bigger than you. When you surrender to faith, you can appreciate that you're inherently worthy and don't need to prove anything to receive love. And until you can receive the love and acceptance you crave, you can't give it to people who are different from you.
Now none of this is to say that you should turn a blind eye...It's important that hateful behavior be condemned. Instead, what we can learn from Dr. King is that we hold other's accountable, while also seeing their humanity in order to maintain our integrity. (And I'll add that there' s a difference between using bad behavior to condone your own bad behavior or as a reason not to love yourself....okkkuuurrrrrr!)
So to end this, love yourself despite, not in spite of the opposition. Trust that in doing so, everything in your life will improve; your physical health, your emotional stability, your finances and your relationships are rooted in the value you place on yourself. Friend, the task at hand is simply to be the change you want to see.
Thanks for reading,
There's a song for that: ""Jesus Loves Me," Michael Jackson
*Nope still not Christian... I've just always loved this song. I would define myself as "Faith-full" and I'm open to any messages that resonate with me spiritually!*