I define self-love as finding balance and moving in a space that considers the whole. While you consider the whole, you must consider yourself. You are a part of the whole, and We does not exist without Me.
When I Google self-love I find a sea of definitions and steps to achieving self-love. Some believe that self love means putting You before others. We live in a time that applauds personal growth and individual success, but I wonder if self-love really conflicts with giving or is it that when you become out of balance and give to the detriment of yourself you end up feeling you have to be hyper self-focused for self-preservation, and is that true Self-Love?
As I look at my own lifeline from youth to my now 45-year-old self, I reflect on my personal self-love journey. I was taught early on to give to others and that my role was to care for my family and community. At age 12 some of my babysitting money was sent home to Jamaica to help support my family who I was told needed my assistance. My grandmother, who raised me, constantly spoke of the needs of my hometown and one of the bedrooms in our Harlem apartment was designated to people who needed shelter. Before I was aware that I had personal needs, I was focused on how I could help others.
And so, my story became a classic one…the wife, the mother, the community health activist, the woman who saw her path centered around giving back but who had not mastered the art of self-love. This came to a severe halt at age 40 when my physical body responded and for the first time I had to focus on my personal needs in order to re-center and heal. I remember being advised to give up the volunteer work I was doing. But, instead I chose a path that involved finding balance. I did not release my desire to give but rather I began to take Myself into consideration. Just as I had done for others, I began to include Me in every decision carefully gaging how my choices would affect me. Because I believe that caring for others and the planet is a part of caring for Me, I did not become hyper-focused on my personal needs. My self-care (daily meditation, mindfulness, exercise, healthy diet, use of cleaner household and personal care items, etc.) was a part of my self-love regimen but I recognized that I was a part of something bigger than me.
I believe self-love is finding balance, considering the whole and putting myself in the whole picture. When we have achieved balance, we are able to give to others without it being detrimental to self.