(Written for Living Wisdom Newsletter- Published by Life University, Hyderabad)
Mouni, a freelance magazine columnist in her mid-thirties had three breakages before she entered into a marriage with a man of her choice. Even after five years of marriage she feels that her husband is not a perfect partner. She feels that her husband has changed as he would call many times during the day before marriage but now it doesn’t happen. He would buy her gifts often before marriage but now it’s stopped completely. At the dinner table, this is their constant topic of discussion – She says, “Hey! What about me? You have changed. You don’t care for me anymore.”
Ashish, a software professional in his early thirties is a complete party animal. He loves late night parties with his friends and reaches home fully drunk every day. He doesn’t want to marry because he wishes to remain a free bird. He has a dad at home (mother died long back) who waits for him to come on time every single night. He holds his father responsible for not giving him a good childhood. His arrogance and cold behaviour acts like a slow poison for his father. It’s been long they haven’t had a healthy conversation with each other. He says, “Dad! I love myself and I love to be a free bird. I earn well, so I have the full right to spend it the way I like.” Is this really self- love?
On the other hand Sharad couldn’t become a doctor so he pines to see his daughter fulfilling his dream. The daughter is a gifted singer and given a chance, she can give her heart and soul in making singing her fulltime profession. Sharad says, “What I couldn’t do, my daughter will do it for me.”
There’s a common thread between all of them. However, they all seem to be ardent followers of the “Love the Self” rule but something is amiss between each one of them.
How often do we slip out from the zone of “Loving Oneself” justifying what we are doing is actually taking care of the self? How often do we pack our Self-Absorption syndrome into a Self-Love wrapper, pretending nothing is wrong in doing it? How often do we think of the “Poor me syndrome” in the relationship dynamics?
So, what makes a Self-Love (SL) Person different from a Self-Absorbed (SA) Person? Let’s look carefully into the dynamics to understand the finer nuances between the two, a tacit understanding of the fine line that separates them.
Underneath their confident attitude, a SA person carries a fragile self-esteem whereas, a SL person is constantly aligned with his innate truth which says – “I am worthy, we are all worthy, the whole creation is worthy.”
A SA person can’t take criticism constructively. He focuses excessively on his strengths and when it comes to working on his weaknesses, he takes a spin off by saying, “It’s ok to be me. I love myself… you see.” We need to remember that real acceptance of our weaknesses brings courage in us to transform and avoid becoming dormant in our comfort zone. A person in SL gives an ear to any feedback received with a positive bent of mind and genuinely looks into it measuring the pros and cons on the reality scale of 0-10 and acting on it, when required.
A SA person believes in creating a ‘Special’ place for himself in a group whereas a person in SL encourages equality. The whole idea of life for him is to be ordinary because it is within this ordinariness that stems out the potential seed to become extraordinary.
Although a SA person wears an all pleasing mask on the outside, but truthfully he lacks the ability to empathise with others innately. He is so caught up in holding his own space on a certain platform that he is hardly left with the time or ability to empathise with others around him. A SL person has a natural ability to read and respond to others’ feelings & emotions. It is this inherent quality that makes them maintain successful & long term relationships with his associates and others around him.
When hurt, a SA person follows an ‘All Silence Policy’ and gets cold towards the person responsible for hurting his ego. He tries to take revenge by completely ignoring that person. A person in SL works towards finding a positive solution by making a sincere effort to have a face to face meeting with each other and focuses on finding a fair resolution to the problem.
A SA person says, “I am better”. A SL person says, “I am good”.
There’s a Mouni, Ashish, & a Sharad in all of us. We all need to learn to read the fine print in between the lines. Great Masters didn’t say that we become so obsessed with the ‘Love Yourself’ Rule that we forget to hold a space of love for others. People with Self- Love value others as much as they value themselves.
Gautama Buddha said, “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”He made this statement to signal that our worldly relationships mirror our inner world. Therefore, to create a loving world outside, we first need to create a loving space inside. Loving yourself doesn’t mean that you become mute to others’ pain, rather our heart should be wide open to hold the others as equals offering them the space of unconditional love and compassion.
So next time watch out when you cross the thin line between Self-Love and Self-Absorption.