The world is utterly confused between narcissism, a definitely undesirable trait, and loving yourself, which is a key to your happiness, success and emotional health in addition to being the vital element in your relationship with yourself, with others and with the Creator.
Narcissism is excessive to exclusive interest in oneself and one's physical appearance. The narcissist is far from happy, for he or she craves praise and admiration. He wants to be the center of the show and needs everyone to tell him how great he (or she) is and looks. In that way, the narcissist is an emotional cripple, entirely dependent on compliment-handouts from others.
The person who loves himself is the exact opposite and entirely independent: he who loves himself doesn't need any outside reinforcement. He's happy with himself, no matter how seemingly unsuccessful or limited he might be.
If we don't love ourselves, we won't be able to love anyone else. A person who doesn't love himself is never satisfied with himself or with anyone around him, he's not even satisfied with the Almighty!
If you want to be happy right now, and not wait until you become rich, get elected to the Senate or find the spouse of your dreams, then you must learn to love yourself. If you wait for the dream to materialize, you'll find that even then, you won't be truly happy, because loving yourself doesn't depend on that dream coming true either or on any other external condition.
Here's how to love yourself in a few easy steps: repeat these steps every day until they become second nature.
- Step #1: Look in the mirror, close-up. Don't focus on your clogged pores or on your broken nose (like mine; when I look east, my nose looks west). They mean nothing. Don't count your gray hairs, if you have them. Look into your eyes. See into the wonderful soul reflecting from those eyes. Do this for a whole minute, 60 seconds. If you have tears in your eyes, that's fine. If you start crying, that's even better. If you blurt out, "I love you," that's wonderful. This just might be the first time that you looked at your real self.
- Step #2: Repeat the first of the Rambam's 13 Principles of Faith. Encapsulated, tell yourself that you believe that everything comes from the Almighty and that He alone did, does and will do everything.
- Step #3: The Torah tells us that we are Hashem's children and that His love for us is unfathomable. For sixty seconds, tell yourself, "G-d loves me." Don't simply repeat it – contemplate it and feel gratitude in your heart for the zillions of life's blessings. Now, move on.
- Step #4: Think now that since the Creator is a loving Father-in-Heaven, and He loves me, He therefore created me with everything I need to be happy. Think how your apparent shortcomings are not shortcomings at all, because the Creator doesn't give you what you don't need to fulfill your purpose in life. Now, look for your good points. Think of your three most beautiful qualities.
- Step #5: Tell yourself how much you love yourself, just the way you are, right now – the whole package as is. Since you love yourself, you're now ready to love everyone else. Think now how much you love life and love G-d. Thank Him for these 5 steps and now have a great day!
Can you imagine what you've just accomplished?
A person who loves himself will never lie, because he or she doesn't need to invent stories to try and make themselves look great in other people's eyes.
A person who loves himself will never speak lashon hara, evil speech, about anyone.
A person who loves himself will never ridicule any other human being.
A person who loves himself will never flatter evil or evil people, and tell them out of fear (of being accepted or of losing a job) that they or their evil deeds are wonderful.
The four sins of lying, evil speech, ridicule and flattery sever a person from the Almighty. The soul, in order to be happy, must be connected to the Almighty. By loving yourself, not only do you maintain that connection, but you smile all day long. Nothing in the world is better. Every blessing, LB