Sunday, June 26, 2011

Must we love ourselves?



I'm positive it's not just me who's been through this thought struggle.

Have you ever come across people in your life who openly speak of their love for themselves, with no apparent signs of discomfort? Have you noticed how the discomfort seems to come instead from those surrounding the person in love with theirself? I've always wondered why I feel uncomfortable and restless when things like this happen. Is it because there's something wrong with what I'm hearing, an undesirable trait that you feel awkward about because you're embarrassed on their behalf for not knowing what they are meant to or not mean to say? Or is it the opposite? Do I feel discomfort because I'd never have the boldness to love myself and speak up about it?

In other words, must we love ourselves?

If the answer is no: Why? Wouldn't loving yourself keep you at peace? A person who loves themselves will be immune to any feelings of worthlessness or weaknesses. That person will be content no matter how many failures or criticisms they encounter. How they treat their self will remain on the same level, and not depend on how well they're doing in life, because their love of them self will keep them, in their own eyes, worthy of the best treatment. Doesn't that make people in love with themselves more likely to be successful because of how good they'll be feeling all the time about their life? And won't that mean they will always be happy, irrespective of what's happening in their life? Also, what about the idea that to be capable of loving others, we must be capable of loving ourselves? How true is it, and why are the two related?

If the answer is yes: Why? Wouldn't loving yourself make you self-conceited and vain? Wouldn't being content with the way you are make you blind to your imperfections, and therefore trapped from improving yourself? Wouldn't loving yourself make you more likely to look down at others? Is it possible to remain humble and modest while loving yourself? Would the love you feel for yourself occupy you from loving others? Would your narcissism make others around you uncomfortable and less drawn to you?

Must we love ourselves?

The usual response to a question like this lies in moderation. But that's not a satisfying answer, because how do we maintain this level of moderation? How do you manage to keep the balance?

And in any case, who said any of all of this is in our hands?

If you're reading this, please drop by your two cents and tell me, must I love myself?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Little Yusuf

I've been having that uncomfortable stone in my stomach for a while now. The one that comes along with a continuous stream of negative thoughts and tries to sink you down in the ground with every passing minute. The depression stone that sits there doing absolutely nothing other than ruining all your moments and refusing to budge. And constantly demanding that you acknowledge its existence. That one.

And then something incredible happened. I woke up today and God reminded me of a story I had heard a million times before, except it felt like I was hearing it the first time.

Yusuf (peace be upon him) [Qur'anic name for Joseph] was his daddy's favourite. Of the ten brothers he had, only one of them was the sort he could play with. I can imagine him thinking of his dad and brother as the protection and comfort he had in a home filled with envious brothers. But then his life turned upside down with a single trip outside his home, where he thought his brothers were taking him out to play. They threw him into a well instead, after bickering between them about whether they should kill him or just abandon him.

I know what I would have done in that situation. The depressive stone would have made its appearance, and I'd probably die that very minute in despair and frustration.

But thrown in the well, with the feelings of loneliness, (it was a faraway place from home), fear (imagine a kid in a dark wet well at night), betrayal (his own flesh and blood did this to him) and sadness (at the thought of never being able to see his father and brother again, and also at the thought of them having to bear his loss), Little Yusuf still managed to see the light at the end of the tunnel. His faith in God didn't waver an inch, in fact, it made it stronger. His optimism shined through and it was this strong faith and trust in God that rescued him the following morning.

If you read Yusuf's story in the Qur'an, his life is an accumulation of hardships and trials, and through each of the different situations he finds himself in, he continues to be positive, strong and hopeful. Eventually, it pays off.

I feel really ashamed thinking of this. My life is hardly 1% as difficult as his and yet I act ungrateful. Thank you, Prophet Yusuf, for showing me the positive side!

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