A ballet teacher tells her students that obstacles can be understood and overcome by revisiting the beginning – the barre. When a basketball player loses his magic touch, he returns to drills, foul shots. In this over-complicated world of rushing cars, ringing cell phones, constant music, incessant alarms, bells, and whistles, it’s a wonder that we’re all not locked up with a quack doctor 24/7. Except we’re all trying too hard to keep up with the speed of life that we hardly have a moment to realize… we’re lost, we’re struggling, we’re stressed, we’re unhealthy. Rather, we more often think we’re not fast enough, not efficient enough, not tidy enough, too judgmental, too blunt, too conservative. We need to move faster, think faster, be original, be unique, make more money, have more friends… STOP!
It’s all too much. We need to simplify! We need to slow down…While technology assists us in this fast paced world, it also hinders us. It distracts us, occupies us, keeps our minds buzzing and keeps our minds away from being idle, and keeps us CONNECTED. But how connected are we really? What do those vibrating, whistling notifications DO for us?
I’m beginning to wonder if the plethora of social networks and apps force us to focus on the trivialities of life. While there is value in a creative community, an exchange of ideas and knowledge, could these sites be forcing us into others’ lives unnecessarily? Hopping from one app or network to another, scrolling through friends’ or strangers’ updates – what are we searching for? I’m not denying that there is satisfaction in laughing and agreeing with little known or infrequently shared sentiments. I’m just beginning to wonder if these virtual venues are directing our focus too much to the external world.
I’m not implying that every one of the billion users on the various engines is depressedly, slyly, or creepily searching through others’ lives. What I am intimating, simply and directly, is that these virtual “connections” are not only limiting our connections with others, but more significantly, erasing the importance of connections with OURSELVES.
Why does everyone believe that self-love, self-discovery, or any derivation of an inward focus is sinful? It’s almost like a bad word. Is this why so many of us lack self-awareness?? It’s deemed luxurious to indulge in self-absorption. Okay, maybe we shouldn’t indulge, but we should NOT outright ignore what our bodies, our minds, our souls are telling us. WE need a visit every once in a while. As adults, if we don’t mentally and emotionally pamper ourselves every once in a while, who will??
We all know the adage that loving others begins with loving one’s self. So how come those of us who take the time to re-discover and cultivate ourselves, to improve ourselves, are so quickly burned in effigy? For me, learning the art of self-love is not (just) about my own happiness but it is also about learning to be a better person, a person who loves others. A person who can teach others to love. I consider myself a spokesperson for love, all kinds. And the one that I’ve always struggled with is the same one that gets the short end of the stick – self-love.
One last thought: If we are encouraged to love others – family, friends, strangers, enemies – what’s logical about excluding ourselves? As Fromm argues, we’re people too! And with that thought, I’ll leave you with a quote from Meister Eckhart:
“If you love yourself, you love everybody else as you do yourself. As long as you love another person less than you love yourself, you will not really succeed in loving yourself, but if you love all alike, including yourself, you will love them as one person…”