Daily InspirationYour emotions are a great gift, letting you know when you are on track or off track in your thinking and behavior, or when you need to attend to what is happening with a person or situation. Today, practice learning what your painful emotions are telling you, rather than avoiding them with your various addictions. By Dr. Margaret Paul
Self-Love vs. Selfless LoveBy Dr. Margaret Paul
June 08, 2015
Is there a difference between loving yourself and loving others, or are they one and the same?
Have you ever been confused about the boundary between loving yourself and also being loving to others?
This is what Rosanna is struggling with. She asked:
"How do I know where the boundary is between self-love and the selfless love I need to provide for my child? How much do I give? I know this is just a temporary situation when my child is young. Also same question for a relationship, where is the boundary between self-love and what you need to give to keep the relationship nurtured? THANK YOU!!!"
If I was working with Rosanna, I would ask her:
"Rosanna, would you feel good about yourself if you neglected your child?" I'm certain that her answer would be no. Therefore it's loving to herself to be loving to her child.
I know that it's sometimes hard to understand that when we are loving to ourselves we are also being loving to others. A major aspect of loving ourselves is giving to others because it brings us joy to give. In fact, the more you bring love to yourself and fill yourself with love, the more you desire to share your love with others.
Rosanna asks: "…where is the boundary between self-love and what you need to give to keep the relationship nurtured?"
There is no boundary between self-love and loving a partner. If loving a partner feels like an obligation – like what you need to do rather than what you want to do - then what you are giving isn't actually love. When you love someone, then you want to give to that person and you want to keep the relationship nurtured because that's what's also loving to you.
If you feel like you are obligated to keep the relationship nurtured, then it's likely you are trying to control your partner by caretaking. No form of control is loving to you, nor to your partner, and caretaking is certainly a form of control.
Sometimes the wounded self can convince you that you are taking loving care of yourself when what is really happening is that you are ignoring what genuinely makes you happy and is in integrity with your soul. For example, if your baby is crying at night and you are exhausted, your wounded self might say that taking care of yourself is to let your baby cry. But on a deeper level, if you really tune in to what makes you feel good about yourself and is in integrity with your soul, you will know that allowing a helpless baby to cry – no matter how tired you are – is not in integrity with your soul essence. While the wounded self says, "I need sleep," the loving adult says, "I need to love my baby more than I need to sleep. I chose to have this child knowing that I would be sleep deprived, and I need to stay in faith with myself regarding my internal agreement to be loving to my baby."
The way that I stay in integrity with myself is to constantly ask my spiritual Guidance, "What is in the highest good of my soul right now?" I've learned that it's never in the highest good of my soul to listen to my wounded self, who might say that I should just take care of myself without considering the effect my behavior has on others. Taking loving care of myself always means that I also care about others.
We are caretaking when we care about others without also take loving care of ourselves, and we are being selfish when we take care of ourselves without also caring about others.
You will find that the more you learn to truly take loving care of your soul, the more naturally you are also caring about others, because it is loving to your soul.
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