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Love and respect for oneself

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By: Kogi Naidoo / January 29, 2024

“You, as much as anyone in the universe, deserve your love and respect.”

Buddha 

I remember when I was growing up being reminded that it was good to love and respect others. What I was not taught or told explicitly how I should behave towards myself? I was told that I should be selfless and not selfish, not think of myself before I thought about others. It was always about putting myself after others. As a result I continued to make myself my own last priority. What I didn’t realise was that I was neglecting my health and welfare, very important to my wellbeing, physically, emotionally and spiritually. As a result after many years of neglect, habits difficult to change, I have suffered to the extent I was of no good to anyone, including myself. I had to hit rock bottom before I came to my senses. 

I realise now that having self-respect and love for self is most important. I realise that it is not selfish at all. In fact it is selfish to expect others to be supportive of me when I was neglectful in the first instance. I wish I had seen through my early years of conditioning and socialisation. It isn’t fair to expect others to be tolerant and understanding, when I, myself was not tolerant and did not understand myself. I have had my own life experiences that have taught me that I should not have been so accepting of what I had been made to believe and accept. I should have questioned, instead of being so obliging and accepting. I have learned that it is not at all selfish to take care of oneself, love and respect oneself. In fact, only when one can do this for oneself, is one able to freely and genuinely love and respect others. 

How did I do this? I learned to firstly acknowledge myself for who I am. I am human. I have the capacity to live, learn and love. I am a human being. I make mistakes. As long as I am learning I am changing. I must be able to forgive myself before I can expect others to forgive me. It has taken time and ongoing effort to achieve this. I know there are times I back slide, but again I realise, it is always two steps forward, with one step back, I am still making progress. I am on the path of change. I know that there will be a day when I will accept the fact that I am as deserving and worthy of love respect as those I love and respect. 

How about you? Do you respect and love yourself as you do others? If you do that is indeed remarkable and how you should be. If not, reflect on why you think you don’t deserve the love and respect. In time, it will dawn on you that you have wronged yourself. This is indeed unforgivable! So how do you plan to right this wrong? 

With infinite love and gratitude! 

Kogi 

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