There’s often an emphasis on loving oneself, but some people wonder, “Isn’t loving yourself narcissistic?”
You may have heard that you can’t genuinely love another unless you first love for yourself. You can’t serve someone from your cup if your cup is empty. And this is why there’s often so many problems in relationships. Because, instead of coming from a place of being full of love, and sharing that love, we’re often coming from a sense of scarcity and emptiness. And because we don’t have that active love for ourselves, we’re always trying to get it from someone else.
And so relationships, oftentimes, are about exploiting one another, trying to get love from one another; not so much about giving love or sharing love, but about getting. Because, again, you can’t share what you don’t have. And if you don’t have it, you’ll always be trying to get it.
So to have a truly loving exchange, there has to be love already within each individual that is not dependent upon the other. And this means we have to first love ourselves.
Now, when this topic of self-love comes up, a lot of people ask, ‘Isn’t loving yourself narcissistic? Isn’t that basically what makes someone narcissistic; someone’s who’s in love with themselves?
But something I bring up all the time is that things aren’t always what they appear to be on the surface. And while it appears that narcissism is basically describing someone who’s in love with themselves, the reality is that this person really has no love for themselves at all. It’s really just a clever deception.
In reality narcissism is a form of overcompensating for a lack of self love. And so really the person is over-inflating their importance, their achievements, their attributes and so on, in order to gain admiration and validation from others.
But someone who genuinely loves themselves, who truly recognizes their own value, not in an egotistical way, but really acknowledges it, doesn’t need validation from others. They don’t really care what other people think of them, regardless of whether the opinions are positive or negative. And because they don’t need to be validated, they don’t seek validation, which means they don’t try to get noticed, to stand out, to get attention, to talk themselves up and all that sort of thing. All of that kind of behavior is really a sign of deep insecurity.
A person who genuinely loves themselves feels secure in that love, and that love is very satisfying. So they’re not going to make a big show of themselves and try to impress others in order to win respect and approval.
Now, for the narcissistic person, practically everything they do is an attempt to win respect and approval from others, to gain recognition, to be admired and validated. So when a narcissistic person is talking themselves up, or showing off, they’re trying really hard to convince everyone else that they’re important and worthy so that other people will reflect that back to them. Which is to say that they’re really dependent upon others to provide them with a sense of value. They’re trying really desperately to get people to like them and love them, because they don’t have love for themselves.
And the more we feel that love is lacking, the more desperately we try to get other people to love us. And I think it’s clear that the level of desperation reveals how insecure a person really is.
And of course, this is not a judgment, but merely an observation. So, we should have some compassion for anyone who is feeling unloved. But, even with compassion, we can’t make them feel loved, because only they can do that. But, in understanding this, we can also have compassion for ourselves, because even if we aren’t overtly narcissistic, the reality is that most of us feel unloved and unworthy and insecure to some degree. So can we also learn to love ourselves?
And the more we love ourselves, the more love we have to give. So this idea that someone who loves themselves is going to be selfish and inconsiderate toward others is really the opposite of what actually happens when we love ourselves. Because when you truly love yourself, you become so filled with love, that it overflows. And that excess has to go somewhere. So where does it go? It goes out to whoever you’re in contact with, whoever is in your immediate surrounding, whoever you meet when you’re out in the world.
And that’s the nature of love, that it spills out into the world. And that’s what underlies generosity and understanding and compassion and so on. So someone who is selfish, is not someone who loves themselves, but someone who feels unloved and unhappy and is trying to fill that void with anything they can get. And so, for them, it’s always about trying to get something from someone. Whereas, love is always about giving and sharing.
But this lack of self love doesn’t only manifest as narcissism. It also manifests as codependency. We’re often lead to believe that these two are opposites of one another, but they’re both in fact expressions of the same core issue.
So what this all comes back to is learning to love ourselves, which means to recognize our own value, and to appreciate and honor that.
And there’s a lot more that can be said about this, about how to go about loving oneself, because often
we hear people say that we should love ourselves, but no one ever tells us how. And unless we know how, then all we have is this idyllic notion, or some misunderstanding, like the idea that narcissism is some form of self love.
So, I’ve already talked about this in another Article titled ‘Learning to Love Yourself‘, hopefully, it will help to clear up any other confusion you might have about what it truly means to love yourself.