This week I had an email exchange with a client of mine that I worked with back in the “old days” when I was just offering nutrition advice and food-as-medicine coaching. She had reached out to send me a little Christmas update on her health and life, but also to see how my travels were going.
(I LOVE my clients, they are seriously the best).
In this email she wrote, “How is the theme for your book starting to take shape? I hope that it has something to do with foods, cultures, and/or longevity of life in certain environments. I would be disappointed in a self-love book though since I have to say that I try to keep myself focused on doing for others. Getting all wrapped up in myself is never good for me.“
I’m not sure everyone knows this, but my book is absolutely about self-love practice. I did for awhile think I was going to write a type of cookbook, but as my own healing and thoughts progressed I shifted my perspective. I have consistently experienced that healing isn’t as much about food as it is about our attitude toward life. Having a heavy dose of self-respect and compassion as an aspect of that attitude is the MOST important part of True Healing.
That being said, I think there is an idea (although I believe this idea is dying out) that self-love and selfishness are the same thing. There could be nothing further from the truth. Through this email exchange, however, I’ve realized I need to address the difference between these two concepts clearly and concisely if I’m going to continue to proselytize Self-Love.
So here are the definitions of “selfishness” and “Self-Love”, as defined by google.
Selfishness: (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.
Self-Love: regard for one's own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic).
Ok, those give us some idea of the difference, but let me tease them out a bit.
My belief, is that true Self-Love is a form of Universal Love. It’s tapping into that Love that is bigger and broader than anything we can imagine and allowing ourselves to be a conduit for that Love. I believe that we can never truly serve others unless we live from a place of an overflowing heart. We will never be in a state of overflow if our focus is outwards all the time. All outward energy and no inward energy makes us tends towards people-pleasing, indulging, lack of boundaries, and general disharmony within ourselves.
Self-Love isn't getting wrapped up in ourselves, our “problems” or our egoic achievements, this is what I would call “selfishness.” Developing Self-Love means developing an unconditional love for ourselves so that we see, each moment, that we are a divine and holy channel for a Bigger Love.
If we live our lives thinking that we don’t deserve our own Love, we are denying that we are Divine Love and we restrict our ability to channel it. By looking only outward for opportunities to “serve” and denying our opportunity to serve our Highest Self, we constrict the channel within us that brings Divine Love to the world through us.
When we run ourselves ragged, and live from a place of lack and overwhelm, we will never be able to feel completely WHOLE and HOLY. I’ve seen it over and over again with my clients and very dramatically in myself, that when we focus on loving ourselves unconditionally, we heal ourselves AND the others around us, without effort. I'm being healed by offering these perspectives into the world, and in this way, my Self-Love, is feeding Bigger Love.