This is in response to a question I received:
Hi Mr. Bonifacio! I got a bit confused when you’ve said that loving ourselves first before others wouldn’t lead us to true happiness. Why is that so? How are you to love others when you’re not yet settled with yourself? we have to have self acceptance first before we can accept other people, especially if we want tthem to be a part of our life. One is not able to show someone how to truly love (an unlovable person perhaps) if he doesn’t even love or care or accepted imperfections in his life..
Popular belief goes like this: “In order to love others, we must first love ourselves.”
Now let’s look at this statement better. The real meaning of “love” is to lay our lives down, meaning surrender to something. We can see proof of what or who a person loves depending on what they pursue. Most people are pursuing their own happiness, security, comfort, and achievement already. So when we really look at things, most people already love themselves. Even people who have insecurities and inferiority tend to think too much about themselves (like how they’re not as good as others), and this is part of the problem.
There’s also a difference between accepting one’s self and loving one’s self. To love one’s self most, to put one’s self first, means to put ourselves above others, which is actually contradictory to the idea of love – which is for others.
I believe that we actually learn to appreciate ourselves and find ourselves through the process of loving others and putting them first. All the most amazing things in my life have come to me by putting someone else first. The security I feel has come from putting Jesus first. My amazing relationship with my girlfriend comes from putting her first. My relationship with my folks is the same way. Even at work, putting others first has led to amazing results and has benefitted me in ways I would never have seen if I had put myself first.
It’s counterintuitive thinking. Most people believe that we must love ourselves first. This is why, I believe, most people never enjoy the amazing beauty of losing one’s self in another.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
– Albert Einstein