Self-Love Is Spelled R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Many people these days are talking about self-love. Perhaps the following may provide some additional perspective on this subject.
Aretha Franklin demanded R-E-S-P-E-C-T, not love. This was also the wisdom of parent-child relationship educator Magda Gerber, who said, "much harm has been done in the name of love, but no harm can be done in the name of respect." If respect matters this much in romance and raising a child, it should matter in self-love as well.
Minus respect, self-love is a risky proposition. In hindsight, people might attribute their destructive actions to lack of self-love, and plenty of self-love gurus will agree. There's not much evidence that this is true, however. Some self-loathing people are paragons of virtue; others who seem to be overflowing with self-love are human wrecking balls.
What about all those individuals who sincerely think that increasing self-love has benefitted their lives? As the saying goes, feelings aren’t facts. You can improve your blood pressure CAUSALLY through diet and exercise irrespective of self-love. Increases in one’s perception of self-love may CORRELATE with better blood pressure, but that’s it. Would you believe a doctor who told you all you have to do to reduce your BP is to love yourself more?
There’s another reason for valuing respect toward self over love for self. Respect must be specifically defined in terms of the tangible actions that demonstrate it, whereas what constitutes love will always be in the eye of the beholder, even when it is we ourselves. What would it matter if you loved yourself unconditionally till death do you part and behaved to the contrary? On the other hand, you can never go wrong by doing the healthy right thing for your body or mind.
People who suffer from panic attacks overfocus on and misinterpret body sensations, experiencing scary false threat alarm reactions. In treatment, they are encouraged to attend less to these internal cues and more to the world going on around them and on how they are functioning. Anyone going down the rabbit hole by excessively focusing on if and how much they love themselves should do the same.
It may also help to understand that self is simply how our conscious mind experiences itself. Therefore, is it really possible for we, or anyone else, to evaluate our self on a "lovability" scale? As Tina Turner sang, “What’s Love Got to Do With It”?
The takeaway: Don't settle for anything less than R-E-S-P-E-C-T in the way you act toward yourself, whether you love yourself or not.