To love someone, you must first love yourself. Because if you don’t love yourself, how could you ever love someone else? Sounds like a profound question. In fact, the notion of loving yourself sounds all good and proper. And yet, through mere observation…something seems off.
The first time I heard about this notion of “loving yourself” was when I was 23-years-old, back in January 2010. It was by a Scientologist from my acting class, an older Venezuelan singer in his mid-30s. I remember that night. He spotted me on the treadmill while driving by the gym. I ended my work-out and we talked for hours about philosophy, love, and life. I remember his name. Jessy Leros!
This guy, who was signed by Sony and went on to star in NCIS New Orleans, was kind enough to school me, turning on my critical thinking skills, teaching me that just because two ways are presented to you, it doesn’t mean you can’t create a third. And it was him who told me, “in order to love someone, you must first love yourself.”
He said this because, back then…I was still about 312lbs and had a crush on one of the girls in our acting class. I confided in him about my lack of confidence. She was gorgeous and I really was this big, fat, ugly black dude. You can tell just by looking at Jessy that it’s hard to believe he ever had that problem. But still, he insisted the key was for me to focus on myself. To love myself. Be confident in myself. To have greater respect for myself.
Even before talking to Jessy, there were other Scientologists in the class imparting a similar philosophy. The emphasis on “self” was one of their main talking points. They had a very enticing concept that was, “What’s true for you is true for you…” which is tantamount to self-acceptance. It’s a shortened quote from L.Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, who says, “What is true for you is what you have observed yourself. And when you lose that, you have lost everything.”
The philosophy was enticing to me, as I suspect it would be to a lot of young people who struggled with their self-identity. Even today, we keep hearing things like “my truth” as opposed to “the truth”. I believe it feeds into the notion that reality is whatever you believe it is, regardless of what it truly is. It’s enticing because it allows you to live in a dream world of sorts. Almost like a Peter Pan complex where you never have to grow up and instead, can spend your entire life holding on to a dream that may prevent you from moving forward (maturity).
Of course, I could be wrong about all that. Just spit balling. Anyways…
Flash forward years later and it seems we’ve entered the age of movements and ideologies sprung forth from random Individuals by way of social media. I’d argue that once upon a time, such movements and ideologies were debated in universities, public forums, and published on a massive scale, having been scrutinized and picked apart by accredited philosophers and renown thinkers…Now…you don’t need any of that. You just need to be popular.
Which brings me to the notion of “Self-Love.”
I may have heard the concept back in 2010…but I really didn’t notice it’s prevalence until I started regularly using Instagram back in 2018 (I’m always late to the party). Some of the most beautiful women in the world with nearly half a million followers kept promoting that hashtag, #Self-Love. Their motivational quotes and messages were always boasting of “self-love” and loving yourself!
This girl, in particular…is a real model named Savanna. Back in 2018, though I was but one of 250k followers…believe it or not, we’d sometimes chat through her stories since she travels a lot and I worked the night shift, so I was probably one of the few followers still awake.
Savanna was always pushing the notion of Self-love and loving yourself. At first, I was on board with the positivity of it. I thought it was a great way to improve your self-esteem and mental health. Better to love yourself than to hate yourself, right? And very often, people allow themselves to be taken advantage of to such a destructive extent, that they do need to be told to love yourself more. As one of my friends put it, there’s a “sweet spot” for self-love where you don’t want to go too far one way or another.
After a while, however…just from seeing her posts and the kind of activities she was indulging in…I started to wonder, is “Self-Love” really about self-acceptance and mental health awareness? Not gonna lie, Savanna started out as a bikini model years ago. She is exceptionally beautiful. But more and more, her posts were all about luxury, extravagance and opulence. She started posting at expensive events and all kinds of once-and-a-lifetime activities that most could only dream of experiencing. She boasted wealthy brands and the latest fashion trends, all while talking about how you should “love yourself”.
I’m not sure if anyone else is like me, but almost involuntarily, I study and analyze what people are posting. Why are they posting this? Who’s taking the photo? Why are they smiling? What are they projecting? Who are they trying to impress? Are they bragging? Are they promoting a lifestyle, ideology, or fashion? Things like that.
For instance, I’ve sensed a deceptive competition going on between the ladies that belies their support for each other. There’s an ego behind their “inspirational” posts. Clout-chasing. They have ambition. To get more likes, more follows, to outperform, out-flash, out-bling, and out-travel other ladies who dare to step into their arena and call themselves models.
With Savanna, she and her unofficial sorority of models all peddle(d) the same ideology of self-love. They’re called “Influencers” for a reason. “If the cool kids are doing it, we want do it too!” Is what I’m seeing from more and more random women who happen to have a pretty face and a good body.
THE ISSUES WITH SELF-LOVE
After about a year of following Savanna…I finally had words for her and said on a post: “Self-love” certainly does sound nice…but I’d be weary of embracing any notion of “self” too much. I’m thinking, love is more about what you can give others, than what others can give you, or what you can give yourself. Taking care of yourself and making sure you’re working on yourself are just normal adult things people should be doing. Instead, what I see from the “Self-Love” crowd is the prioritizing of self above all else. And that is deplorable.”
She responded in kind, sticking to her guns and I didn’t take it further than that. What I said, might have sounded judgmental…but I don’t think I’m alone in pointing it out.
“But, Rock! Why did you feel a need to say anything? If you don’t like what she has to say, you could’ve just ignored it.”
As I mentioned…I’ve BEEN ignoring them for about a year, well over six months. Also, Savanna’s cool. I knew she wouldn’t mind discussion (some ladies seem to get tired of only dealing with “Yes Men” who blindly agree with everything they say just to stay in her good graces). Honestly, if I believed it’d be a waste of time to say anything, I wouldn’t have bothered (which is why I don’t deal with BLM chicks).
I also did a quick Google search and there’s dozens of writers and Armchair Philosophers saying that same thing I’m about to say. I’m merely addressing it now, because someone called me out on Youtube about it. It was this Kevin Samuels video he did on “The Self-Love of Modern Women”.
A female commenter said: “I think “self-love” is supposed to be about loving yourself the way you love someone close to you/a family member: You take care of yourself (exercise/eat right/etc.), hold yourself accountable, and not abuse yourself when you mess up but accept it/learn from it and keep trying. Self-love shouldn’t get in the way of building a relationship with someone, it’s just about having some self-respect for your health and yourself.”
I think what the commenter said was spot on in a lot of ways. Truly, well done! However…it’s kind of like when you ask someone what Feminism is and you’ll always get someone who says, “It’s about equality for all”…but really, it’s more than just that, isn’t it? Even if that’s what YOU believe about Feminism, can you honestly say that’s how “most” are using the concept in the public sphere?
On its surface, a lot of these phrases like “Body Positivity” and “No Shaming,” sound nice and reasonable…but by mere observation you begin to notice that it’s not really what they “say” it is. Not to mention, there may be some counterproductive results.
With Self-Love…what I’m seeing from those who chant it proudly…is truly an emphasis on self-pleasure. As in, your happiness, your fun, doing what makes you feel good should trump everything else. Putting yourself first. Prioritizing yourself. Essentially, “self-centered”.
“Okay, and what’s the problem!? It’s your life! You should do what makes you happy.”
I disagree. I believe there are a lot of things that might make us happy here and now, but will come back to bite us in the long run. Things like sex, drugs, partying too much, eating too much, drinking too much. And what if what makes you happy makes God unhappy? As Christians, we must choose.
But of course, I think this is why a lot of people simply don’t read the Bible. If you don’t know premarital sex is bad in God’s eyes, you can claim ignorance and blissfully keep on doing it because it makes YOU happy…as if God can’t see right through this.
Also, can you imagine what society would be like if everyone thought about prioritizing self, putting themselves first? Would we have won WWII if our Men didn’t storm the beaches of Normandy because they prioritized themselves over the greater good? Don’t even get me started on the Civil War. Once upon a time, we valued things like honor and valor.
And what about pedophiles, serial killers, and rapists? You could very well argue that some of the worst criminals and despots had a mentality that was full of self-love. Think about the different arguments you hear from Progressives. They ask questions like, “So what, am I supposed to deny myself? Is it fair that other people can live normal lives, but I can’t because I’m a little different!?”
It’s a slippery slope. If we tolerate and accept a certain lifestyle because “it makes the person happy,” you can apply the same logic to other immoral behavior. I’ll never forget the frustrating debate my boss had with a guy who was all for Gay-Marriage on the reasoning of “what two people do in the comfort of their own home is nobody’s business. Why do others want to stand in the way of their love!?”
However, when asked if he’d be okay if a man had multiple wives, the very same Pro-Gay Marriage person said, “No! That’s not right. One wife is good enough. You shouldn’t be taking on multiple spouses, whether you’re a man or a woman!”
In 2 Timothy 3:1-5: God warns us, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy…”
God tells us in Verse 5 to “Avoid such people.”
Avoid these kinds of people. This is what God tells us. Can you imagine why? Kidding. It’s not hard to see.
Even with Online Dating, when I’m meeting these ladies, it seems to escape a lot of them that Good Men, not bad boys who want strippers and whores, but Good Men…when it comes to a selecting a potential wife, we’re not just thinking of ourselves…but our future children.
Just recently, I went to a graduation where my aunts asked my why I’m still single. It’s difficult to explain without sounding like I’m saying everyone else is the problem. But the truth is I really do try to live by Bible principles. Verse 5 tells us to “avoid” such people. And because I do, it makes me “judgmental” by today’s standards.
Just as a lot of Women are looking for men to be good stable providers, Men are looking for wives who will be good mothers to our children. Can you indulge in “self-love” while “self-sacrificing” at the same time? Maybe?
“But what about Men! I’m always hearing from your precious Manosphere that Men are told to focus on themselves. That’s what male content creators are telling their followers.”
True…but if I’m not mistaken, it’s usually in the context of chasing women. They’re telling men to stop chasing women and focus on your career and building yourself up first. I’m not sure that’s the self-love we’re talking about.
“How?! That’s all Self-love is. It’s about taking care of yourself and loving yourself and putting yourself first!”
Right so, there are guys who have gone the way of MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way), in which they’ve sworn off dating and pursuing a romantic relationship with women. You might have a case there…but even there, a lot of MGTOW guys don’t live in the pursuit of self-pleasure, but actual fulfillment which comes from working, building, and helping others.
Most of the guys and Red Pill Content creators I follow…they’re telling men to Build themselves up and focus on themselves…usually for a purpose or a goal. And for a lot of us, one of our biggest goals is to have our own families. We’re told to build ourselves up so we can provide for our families (which includes women).
Even in my twenties, one of the main reasons why I busted my ass, sacrificing my weekends, vacations, and time-off on trying to get published was to build a financial foundation by which I could get out of debt and start my future family. It wasn’t just for me (self).
Now ask yourself…of this modern group who tout “SELF-LOVE”…how many of them are focused on loving themselves and putting themselves first…to the benefit others? (NO, I’m not saying Women are more selfish than Men. There’s plenty of selfish men who like to sleep around and put themselves first, making dead-beat baby-daddies)
“But Rock, you can’t expect others to love you if you don’t love yourself.”
I don’t believe that’s necessarily true. Loving yourself certainly helps when it comes to projecting positive vibes and an upbeat nature. But let’s be honest. When a man or woman finds themselves attracted to someone, they aren’t thinking to themselves, “Yeah, I really like her/him because you can tell they love themselves.”
In a lot of cases, people fall in love because misery loves company, as in “I’m looking for someone who’s just as messed up as I am.” Anyone who’s too happy, upbeat, and optimistic won’t do for this lot. That’s how drug addicts end up together and fall in love.
My point being…the focus and emphasis on loving yourself first, I don’t think is the pinnacle prerequisite needed for another person to love you. Not to mention, what if you do spend all this time coming to love yourself first…and other people simply don’t love who you are. Or rather, they don’t love who you’ve chosen to be.
That’s just one more reason why a lot of men appreciated Kevin Samuels. The frustration and confusion in today’s dating culture comes from society telling men what we SHOULD be attracted to, instead of telling women the truth about what we really are attracted to. Mainly, her youth, beauty, fertility, and I’ll go ahead and add her “chastity”. I know some men like a woman who’s loose and into the hook-up culture, but not the Good Men (Godly men) they “claim” they want.
“Alright, Rock. But say you do find this perfect woman you seem to think exist somewhere. How is she able to love you or anyone else, if she doesn’t even know how to love herself first?”
That question was asked of me recently and it’s what prompted this here essay. I know it sounds like a profound question, but truth is, we’ve been doing it naturally and involuntarily for generations. Think of the parents, firefighters, doctors, volunteers, pet owners, nurses, the heroes of 9/11, the vets of Normandy Beach, etc etc.
Consider John 15:13: “13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – This can’t be understated. Essentially, Jesus Christ saying that sacrificial love is the greatest love of all. This is what we should be striving for, more than love for ourselves. But, of course, this is easier said than done. Or is it? I know I’d easily give my life for my brothers or niece. But for a friend? And if you wouldn’t give your life, do you really love the person? I’m not sure.
But check this out. In 1 John 4:7-19 we find a beautiful expression of God’s love and what it means to love in general. Succinctly put at verse 19, the scripture says, “We love because he first loved us.”
Think about it. Love. Self-love. Agape. Forget all the definitions, forget all the quotes, the poems, expressions, and cliches. But think about how we really know what love is.
The famous scripture of John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
So…perhaps, instead of asking, “how can you love someone if you don’t know how to love yourself first?”
A better question would be, “How can you love someone if you don’t know what it’s like to be loved?”
How many times have we heard of ladies falling for the bad guy, and nine times out of ten, it’s based on not having loving examples in the household to show them. For a lot of people, all they had to go on is what they see in TV and the movies.
If their only examples of love and relationships are what you see on TV, is there any wonder why some ladies go for the drama and excitement over the boring, mature, stable guy? They think the open expressions of jealousy, the sex, the impulsiveness and a man openly risking it all are all viable, acceptable (and wanted) expressions of true love.
Think about it. If you’ve never been loved, how would you know what love is? Sure, you could guess. But I suspect a lot of people confuse how a person makes you feel with love, when really it’s just the chemical releases in your body that you’re addicted to when you’re around that certain someone. Is that love? Is it part of it? How would you recognize it? How would you appreciate it?
From what I’ve seen, it’s mostly younger crowd 28 and under who really promote and push the “Self-Love” culture. I bring up their youth, because…just gonna be honest here, the inexperience coupled with the self-indulgence leads to the illogical conclusion that “if it doesn’t make you happy, then it must bad for you…” and vice versa. “If it makes you happy, then it must be good for you.” This can be stupid and dangerous.
When I was in my early 20s, back before Jessy Leros talked to me, I don’t think I understood what it meant to be loved. My parents divorced when I was six and when my mother remarried, my brothers and I never saw any public displays of affection.
The love that you’d think of when it comes from friends, girlfriends, or a spouse. As I said…all I knew is what I saw in TV shows and movies (which was different from most of my peers growing up, because my religiously strict parents kept parental locks on everything not G-rated).
And because I never experienced anything like what I saw on TV, I honestly believed that I was never loved. I never had a girlfriend tell me that she loved me until I was 30. This doesn’t mean that people never loved me. I was just too young and inexperienced to recognize it for what it was. And none of this had anything to do with the fact that I didn’t love myself or that I didn’t know how to love myself. God knows I was selfish when I left home and first came to Tampa at the age of 18. I self-indulged and self-loved myself all the way up to 378lbs. It’s called gluttony.
And recently, I had a lady tell me that my working out to “lose weight” was a form of loving myself. Even if that is the case, people are missing the point. I didn’t work out and lose weight because I “loved myself”. I did it because I love women! And I simply asked myself, what are the odds that I’d find an attractive, in-shape, single woman who’s into big fat men?
“But, Rock. You loved yourself enough to…”
STOP! Just stop. I know. You want to lump everyone who’s improving in life into the same category of self-love just so you can keep promoting and feeling good about selfish behavior. Unless you’re “working on you” for the purpose of benefiting others or to appeal to others, I don’t want to hear it. Stay over there!
“We love because he first loved us.”
We love because God loved us first. Not because God loved himself first. I like this scripture at 1 John 4:19 so much because it wasn’t until I read the Bible for myself that I began to understand what “love” really is. Honestly…I know that sounds super cheesy. But there’s so many examples of husbands and wives to learn from. So many warnings and lessons taught by men far better than myself.
And more importantly, God demonstrated his love for us not just in giving us Jesus Christ who died for our sins…but there’s been so many flipping times where I was truly alone when it comes to my peers. But God didn’t forsake me. My strength, my discipline, my intelligence, my endurance, and defiance to never give in to this wicked world…I give all credit and glory to God.
And I say that as a young man who does know what it’s like to feel angry, unappreciated, and unwanted in this world. When I was 28, it was the year that I started shedding off the old skin and becoming a true Christian. This was tough because we live in a Satan dominated society.
I never told anyone this, but one night that year, I went into a dark empty conference room and cried down on my knees. I prayed to God and told him everything. I was dealing with so much. Things I just couldn’t tell anyone else. I had reached a breaking point that night and instead of taking a route that would turn me into a statistic…I poured my heart out to my Heavenly Father.
God didn’t owe me anything. For years, I refused to pray or even touch the Bible. I hated organized religions due to the scars of my upbringing. God had no reason to take such pity on this selfish young man, but he did. He heard my prayers and strengthened my heart. I can’t sufficiently put into words how much my life changed after that night.
But that’s how I know what love is. It’s because He gave me the strength to pick my head up and keep going. Because he blessed me with an internal code imprinted by his Holy Scriptures. The side effect to this is the defiance to rebel against Satan’s wicked system of things…which in turn, gives me a sense of satisfaction and is a reward in of itself.
I know what love is because God embedded me with a strong conscience to strive to do the right thing regardless of whether it’s appreciated, seen, or rewarded by humans. The side effect to this is the reduced need for human validation. Don’t get me wrong, compliments and appreciation are always uplifting to me…but simply doing the right thing, I KNOW God sees me and he is proud. This means 10x more to me than any human on earth.
I know what love is because God assures all of us that justice will prevail and as long as we endure till the end, we have the hope of everlasting life in paradise, a better world, one where there is no suffering, no cancer, no sickness, no pain, no death. One where we never see any of our loved ones pass away.
I’ll leave you with this. At 1st Corinthians 13:4-7, the Scriptures tell us, “4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
I know what love is because Jesus Christ was blameless, perfect, and innocent. Yet he signed his name on a death warrant for all of us corrupt, guilty, and undeserving humans. He died so that our sins may be forgiven, and we’d have the hope of everlasting life. He died so that we could live.