My brother-in-law, an IIT engineer and MBA from IIM, is a very learned and wise man. However, a couple of years ago when I asked him a question, “Do you love yourself?”, he was stumped. Normally very articulate, he did not have an answer to this one. He said, “Bhaiya, this thought never occurred to me”. What he told me is, I’m sure, true of millions of others. The thought of loving ourselves is alien to most of us, even though the Bible makes mention of this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. Somewhere along the way we forgot about loving ourselves…though we seem to have taken to loving our neighbours! Perhaps the reasons are not so difficult to fathom. From our childhood we see people loving someone else - mothers loving their children, fathers loving mothers, girlfriends loving boyfriends, brothers loving sisters, mothers-in law loving daughters-in-law, sons-in-law loving mothers-in-law – ok, ok let’s not push it. As Indians, we are culturally more oriented towards helping and taking care of other people, putting their needs ahead of our own. Further, our years of ‘slavery’ to the caste system and to foreign rulers has perhaps conditioned many to ‘look up to people in authority’ and ‘look down upon themselves’. All of this has made us forget the most important person in the world to us – our self. We need to realise that the world will not exist if we do not exist. To make the best of our existence and to thrive, it is incumbent upon us to take the best care of ourselves - to love ourselves. if we don’t accept ourself, if we do not put ourself first, no one else will. And this love need not be earned and should not be conditional - on how we look, how rich/poor, or how educated we are. It should simply be an unconditional acceptance of our self by ourself. For then, wonderful things start to happen. We begin to look more beautiful. Our relationships with everyone around us improve. We start getting noticed. Opportunities come our way. We become happier. It is we who teach other people how to treat us. In no way am I suggesting that you be selfish or mean. Fortunately there is plenty goiing around for everyone in the universe.
But then why don’t we love ourselves more? What have we done so drastically wrong that we can’t love ourselves? It seems that years of conditioning by society had led us to believe that we don’t deserve the best. We tend to run away from ourselves because we believe that we are not good enough for our self. How many of us can look at ourselves in the mirror and say, “You are a wonderful person. I love you.” If we don’t love the person in the mirror, how will we be able to love anyone else deeply or meaningfully? Loving oneself is about taking responsibility for one’s own self. You can begin by nurturing yourself on three dimensions – the Physical, Emotional and Spiritual, and developing their respective quotients (PQ, EQ and SQ).
Take care of your body. Stay away from alcohol, tobacco and junk food. Pamper yourself - go for a manicure, pedicure and facial (guys included!); buy that thing (for yourself) that you have been putting off for long.
Stop criticising yourself. You are good as you are. But it is also OK to change. Stop frightening yourself, as nothing is as bad as it seems. Forgive people. Since human beings are social animals, EQ is a necessary component for a happy and successful life.
Spend time with yourself. Be there for yourself. Stop rushing. Meditate daily, even if it is for 10 minutes - you can never go wrong with meditation. Many great achievers are known to set aside time for solitude and reflection.
According to a recent Forbes article: Research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85 percent of your financial success is due to skills in ‘human engineering’ - your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate and lead. Only 15 percent is due to technical knowledge. Heaven (success, happiness, prosperity, abundance, good health) or Hell (scarcity, insecurity, stress) is not something that happens in the after life. You can make your living life heaven or hell by the choices you make here – on Earth. This Valentine’s Day I urge you to make the right choice. Fall in love with the most wonderful person in the world - your own self, and experience heavenly bliss.
Happy Valentine’s Day!