“You yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe deserves your love and affection.” Buddha

It began with a video I came across on WhatsApp; a flight attendant instructing passengers on what to do in case of an emergency. It simply admonished them to put on their oxygen mask first before attempting to help others. The whole concept of the video was that you will be of no use to someone if you faint halfway through helping them. This video triggered a lot within me and with no option, I was forced to ask myself the questions I always eagerly run away from. One thing I love to do, believe it or not, is to love, care and serve people. It is something I strongly know God has gifted me with and not to bluff, I find myself naturally doing it even when I try to resist the urge. But the truth is whatever gift God gives you, you need Him to grant you the wisdom in how to use it. And that’s where I fall short!

Here I was with this video replaying in my head and all I could think of was self-love. The word “self-love” when often heard is akin to the word “selfish,” but today I beg to differ. Loving yourself doesn’t and shouldn’t take away from loving others. It allows you to become better at radiating love to others. In this day and age, we have centered the expression of love on others at the expense of ourselves.

So if self-love isn’t selfishness then what is it? Is it dolling on makeup or arriving at an event in the most expensive designer suit? Is it an impression we portray to make others feel inferior? Certainly not! “It is a state of appreciation for oneself regardless of imperfections that grow from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth.”

Loving yourself requires not only being mindful of who you are but to also act on this knowledge. It requires you to take great care of your basic needs; nourish yourself daily by spending time with God, through healthy activities and social interactions. To love yourself, you must be ever willing to set boundaries!!! This is another area I definitely know I fall short. You need to set limits!!!  Learn to say no to anything whether work, love, or activities that deplete or harm you physically, emotionally or spiritually. There is a time and season for everything (Eccl. 3:1-8) so be rest assured that it is okay to say no.

The same compassion you are ever willing to extend to others because of their imperfections should also be channeled to yourself. Take responsibility for your actions but don’t punish yourself for mistakes you made or are going to make in this journey; forgive yourself.

Think of your parents, siblings, a lover or a best friend. How do you express your love for them? Do you believe in them, do you respect them, do you spend time with them, do you invest in them? I need you to take a deep breath, meditate on and answer this question, “How do you express love towards yourself?” This is a question that requires you to be sincere; I can never give you the answer. I just want you and I to get to the point where we understand and value the fact that we are just as important as the people and things we love and care about.

Befriend yourself, learn to relish in your own company. Do things you enjoy; things that make your day extra blissful. Everything you do doesn’t always have to make sense neither does it have to be related to your academics or build your career. The truth is you can’t give what you don’t have. The best way to cause change or impart anything in this world is to start with yourself; it is in that, that you can powerfully and greatly impact people.

You can’t pour from an empty cup so please do the world a favor and take care of yourself first.