A modern value, which is actually a traditional value, is getting a lot of traction in the modern world. That is self-love. It is good to have a certain sense of self-acceptance and to be able to look at oneself in a loving, caring manner, like how we would do with a friend that we care about. At the same time, I am concerned that many people take this idea of self-love too far and make it damaging.
Like for example, they will say “I love my body. I love what I am”, ignoring that they are obese and vulnerable to physical complications, like diabetes, heart problems, kidney failure, etc. So self-love is not about saying, “I love myself in spite of the fact that I'm obese.” Yes, you accept the fact that you are obese. If you really love and care for yourself, you would do whatever it takes to get healthy. We need not be like skinny models but reducing one’s weight to be physically healthy is part of genuine self-love.
The same thing applies if I have emotional problems. Yes, “I do love myself, in spite of the fact that I may have emotional issues. At the same time, I really care for myself and my emotional health. I will do what it takes to heal whether it is counselling/therapy or any other system that helps me deal with my issues.”
Genuine self-love is not an excuse to continue problematic behavior or unhealthy lifestyles. That is just ducking the issue. Genuine self-love is about caring for oneself and doing what is necessary to be healthy, both physically and emotionally. It is only then that our self love can turn us towards being more spiritual beings, who want to discover what one really is, including the reality of the world. Let us have some genuine self-love and not use it as an excuse to continue with self-destructive behaviors, habits and emotional states. I need to accept myself which includes that I have some issues and do what is necessary to change lovingly.
The writer is the founder of Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him at email@example.com