One of my favourite movies…who am I kidding? Let me say it better… One of the best movies ever made is the movie “Coming to America”. In our family we watched that movie so many times that every last one of us (apart from my mum and dad) was able to quote every line said in every single scene in the movie; even without watching it.
In the movie, Prince Akeem and Semmi attend a charity event where an artist called Randy Watson gave a performance. The first time I watched coming to America was the very first time I heard the song “the greatest love of all”. In the movie, it was sung in such a comical manner that for years I overlooked this amazing song with such amazing lyrics.
This valentines day, we will be focusing on self love as this is the beginning of giving and receiving love humanly and physically speaking. Of course as a christian by faith, I honour the words of the bible. Although self love is a great love, I call it the second greatest love. This is simply because I agree with the bible’s definition of the greatest love being the sacrifice of a man’s life for his friend.
I define self love as simply prioritising your peace, wellbeing and happiness to the point that you are able to radiate true and pure love to those around you without anyone being able to negatively exploit your gift of love. Before every flight on an airplane, you would be clearly instructed to fit your own oxygen mask before attempting to help others in the event of a failed ventilation system. When you give love without first having established self love it becomes (for want of a better term) needing to be needed. Unless you are just blessed to be surrounded by great people this is like blood in shark infested waters. Manipulative people are just drawn to such people as a magnet.
Have you ever wondered what gift to give a friend? One of the major factors that would come into play would be how you see your friend. If your friend naturally dresses well, you would consider giving them an item of clothing from a nice store. You may even choose not to give them an item of clothing if for example, you are low on cash and you know that they tend to wear expensive brands of clothing. So you see that how your friend treats themselves is a factor in how you will treat them. There may be other factors in play but their degree of self love will definitely be a consideration. I once heard this quote.. “people will always place you lower than you place yourself”. So even if you are as short as Zaccheus was, please find a stool or a tree.
So back to our theme song. Every line of this song is just so powerful and it starts with how we should begin the journey of self love in the lives of our children by teaching them that they have beauty on their inside. This is particularly key because the journey of self love and what we understand as love begins from our formative years and the kind of environment and experiences we are exposed to early on in life.
In my life, my biggest role (mother) is defined by those words. We live in a world where although I don’t understand why or how; kids say the meanest things to each other. I had this conversation with my child when apparently some other child called her ugly… These kids are so young and from a tender age, somehow some of them are able to attempt such brutal attacks on the self esteem of others. I use the word attempt because how we respond to such incidents will determine if they will accomplish a negative impact or not. We must teach our children who they are. The power of identity is so important.
As we grow further into adulthood the attack on self esteem does not diminish at all but rather increases. I count myself blessed to have parents who instilled in me a strong positive sense of who I am so much so that I can be independent even to a fault. But I find that it is not the case with everyone. Shout out to all those who have had to take a self taught module of self love during their time at life’s school of hard knocks.
For the purpose of this post I will focus on the specific lines towards the end of that song which say that “learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all”.
They say you cannot give what you don’t have and until your tank of self love is full, you will never be able to give and receive love in a healthy way. Even if you aren’t causing any harm to the person you are loving; them seeing you hurt will prevent them from fully enjoying the love you’re offering. In the absence of self love, you could open up the door for violation from others. I have seen that abuse always thrives in the absence of self love whether it is obvious to the abused person or not.
I taught and I’m still teaching my daughter how precious and beautiful she is. This has started to make her immune (at least most of the time) to any kind of taunting; whether as a joke or not. The incidents of such hurtful comments have drastically reduced due to changes in her response. It could also be that such incidents no longer register as real events worthy of reporting to me. She has gone from being in tears over words; to shrugging off negative comments after speaking opposing affirmative words about herself to the hearing of the other person. Her growth has been beautiful to watch to say the least.
So practically self love for some is enforcing a standard for yourself in the area of health and wellbeing or even career. For some it could be insisting on being treated right by those around you and placing a demand for the love you are giving to be honoured and respected in return. In some cases, self love could even mean walking away, from something or someone you love with all your heart because their take on love and respect is inappropriate or even unhealthy. Whichever it is, I still believe that Linda Creed got those lyrics absolutely right. All other love stems from receiving love in yourself, given by yourself.
Fear is something you must overcome when you choose to start loving yourself; especially fear of misinterpretation. The day you decide to take control of your time and eliminate time wasters, such people may see you as proud. The day you walk away from an abusive relationship, people who do not know the details may consider you nonchalant or even foolish. The day you choose to apply for a managerial role you have worked hard to qualify for, colleagues may call you unnecessarily ambitious. Whenever you choose to start saying no when you genuinely can’t, controlling people may think you have become too independent.
Whenever you raise your standards, expect a reaction. However if you can keep on regardless of the word on the street, you will enter a new season. A season of achieving your goals because you can think and see clearly. If you had to walk away, it may not be the end. You might still end up in a happy relationship with a previously abusive person who was just so because it used to be OK by you. Walking away may just cause that reset that their heart and mind needs.
In the space I currently find myself as a wife and mother…I literally pour out my life for my family every day. Self love means sometimes asking for and receiving help. It means sometimes buying what I want in order to treat myself. It means training the kids to tidy up after themselves even though my instinct is to do every single thing for them until they are adults. Self love is sitting at my desk now; writing this post and doing something that adds value to me; something I enjoy. It is giving yourself the opportunity to receive and enjoy love and kind gestures without feeling guilty. It is doing the best you can with what you have. It is protecting your heart and thought space from negativity.
Maybe it is your turn this Valentine’s day. Maybe rather than doing the usual, you need to be your own Val. You may need to set a standard for yourself of what you want to accept as your status quo. It is not a decision that anyone else can make for you. Once you make that decision of self love, it is as if everyone else makes a decision as well. You will notice how every important person and thing in your life also raises their standard of how they interact with you. Even your mind, body and life itself starts to respond to the higher demand you are placing on everything.
Learning to love yourself is the GREATEST…. NO SECOND GREATEST LOVE OF ALL.
Happy Valentine’s Day