This is one I’ve come across A LOT. It’s a common, implied and fear-based belief that has been floating around in faith communities for decades and it’s making us emotionally and spiritually sick – which is kinda the opposite of what connection with faith is intended to do for humanity.
But before I let you in on this hidden, but not so secret idea…let’s look at the impact this one sneaky belief can have on us.
You may have been subject to this belief if you’ve experienced any of the following:
Feeling awkward when someone pays you a compliment.
The inability to say no or put boundaries in place with others.
Discomfort in verbalising or celebrating your achievements.
A highly active internal voice of criticism leading to comparison and/or perfectionism.
While not an exhaustive list, the effects of these ‘symptoms’ carry a tangible impact on emotional and spiritual wellbeing, and can rob you of the freedom to find authentic, confident expression of who you are.
This is the power of a belief and if a belief that limits you can have that much impact, imagine discovering one that empowers you! Perhaps today is the day.
Consider how your life would look different, without those limitations in place:
What would deep and honest connection with others look and feel like?
What would you have more time or energy to do and how will it feel to spend that time on what you’re passionate about seeing unfold?
When the critical voice becomes quiet, how will the internal peace and calm allow you room to dream and imagine?
Are you ready to hear this toxic belief that has been keeping people of faith stuck in a vicious cycle of limitation and fear for too long? Here it is…
Self-love is dangerous.
Many Christians are so scared of becoming self-focused or selfish, that we end up making ourselves small, ignoring the messages our body brings us for our safety, squishing intuition/discernment and honestly for some – parts of themselves have been side-lined altogether.
What if you were to reframe loving yourself as ‘treating yourself as valuable’? Isn't that what love is anyway; valuing someone or something?
Think of someone you love. I'm sure that you hope they know they are valuable for the person they are. Could you place them on a hierarchy of value, to decide if their life holds more or less value than another loved one? Of course not, because we instinctively know that every human life carries value – that means you too.
Here is what’s sad about where we’ve arrived; we’ve missed a key message that Jesus left for us that could have been supporting a healthy belief and action system!
In Mark 12:29-31 Jesus sums up how we’re designed to live in connection with Him and others, He says:
“Love the lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength AND love your neighbour as yourself.”
Did you catch it? It's been there all along, but maybe you missed it because you’ve only focused on the 'loving your neighbour' part of the phrase. Read it again, it says to love your neighbour and love yourself.
If you related to that earlier list of belief impacts, perhaps (like I used to) you’ve internalised this scripture as a belief that sounds like: ‘Value and love others instead of yourself’ or ‘Value and love others better (or more) than you love yourself’.
The problem with this, is that carrying self-criticism, serving until you have nothing left, always saying yes to everyone else’s needs and not prioritising what you need, means that you can’t give God, or anyone else the best of you and certainly all you end up for yourself is leftovers if you’re lucky.
But here, it sounds like loving yourself well is something that helps you to love your neighbour; which is kinda cool, because after all, Jesus cares about you AND your neighbour right?
Jesus sees your value (and that scripture seems to assume you will too) and it's got me wondering...if you treated others the way you treat yourself sometimes, would they still want a relationship with you?!
The answer to that question may mean that it’s time to examine and explore the beliefs that have shaped your relationship with yourself and others, and move towards an emotionally healthier expression of faith and life.
It takes practice (and helpful tools and support), but it’s worth doing in order to love in the way we’re called to love – and is so much healthier for you and those around you.