In the Bible, Mark 12:31 states “Love your neighbor as yourself”. This is a beautiful verse and one that can help us have more love in our life but, I believe we interpret this all wrong. Some interpret this wisdom by beginning with their neighbor and excluding themselves in the phrase, “Love your neighbor.” Period. What happened to “love yourself”?
We focus on the needs and desires of others. We give and we give, until finally we have nothing left but neglect for ourselves and our own needs. We jump through hoops to make other people happy—but at our own expense. The end result is the feeling of being overwhelmed,exhausted, and drained of any reserve energy to focus on our own wants and needs.
When traveling on an airplane with young children, if necessary to use the drop-down oxygen masks, adults are instructed to place air masks first on themselves, and then on their children. The logic behind this is to ensure that in the event of an emergency, the adult has enough oxygen to help the child. If the adult places the mask on the child first, there is a risk that the adult will run out of air and not be able to help themselves or the child. This would leave the child unable to fend for himself.
Is it selfish for the adult to place the mask on themselves first? No! It’s just being responsible.
Take care of your own needs and desires first in order to be able to take care of others. Love yourself first and then you have the physical, mental, and emotional capacity to love others.
Give yourself quiet time, exercise, challenging work, meetings with friends—anything that recharges you as a person. By acknowledging your needs, you acknowledge your self-worth. As with the parent and the oxygen mask on the plane, what do you have to give others, if you have neglected yourself?
Loving yourself means:
Pat yourself on the back. Be proud of who God created you to be. You are worthy because you were born. You are unique, special, and powerful.
Continue to help others. Continue to love those around you, but do so once you’ve loved yourself. If you are not physically, mentally, and emotionally full, you won’t have anything to give to anyone else. Love yourself so that you can love your neighbor!