It might sound like a lesson in selfishness but if you’re reading this, you looked past the title; Congratulations!
Our society, wonderful as it is, shames us into adopting self-destructive behaviors and the belief that self love while being widely practiced; albeit wrongly, is a selfish approach to life is just one such self-destructive behavior.
The media has recently been awash with reports of suicides, self immolation and depression. Granted, Nigeria is experiencing an economic recession and our leaders are clueless as to a means to salvage the nation’s situation. Everybody feels it, and while pain has recently become all that more painful, same can be said for losses, failures, betrayals and any other vice you can think of. Everything bad has suddenly become all that much worse, but it’s our country and we have to in it; all thanks to misused ballot papers.
Anyway, just about any material you choose to read on the subject will tell you that acknowledgement of a bad situation is the first step to recovery, but how does that translate to young people killing their lovers over unrequited love? Or others who toss themselves off bridges to their watery doom over career challenges? What happened to our resilience and ‘never say die’ attitude? Is this all we’re made of?
Well I am not a psychologist, but I still intend to tell you a thing or two from my experience as a writer all the same… No seriously! If having a difficult life is all it takes to consider suicide, you do realize River Niger would contain more writers than fish don’t you? There you go!
Now let’s face it, self love is already an integral practice to human beings, not just Nigerians; but the way we go about it, it’s not surprising society kicks against it. Most of us are just selfish and it leads a great deal of us to behave very obnoxiously indeed. Nigerians especially may cheat, lie and steal from people who invest an incredible amount of trust in them and do it all in the name of looking out for ‘number one’. If you do that you’re just a thief, period.
The self love I’m talking about deals with being aware of yourself as an individual unit and not part of a relationship in which you need to constantly please your partner or an employee who constantly needs to meet your supervisor’s approval. You are a person with a name and an identity, you have your dreams and passions, and you need to realize that you can be part of a union without losing sight of your individual needs and desires.
One major need we forget to satisfy is a need to treat ourselves. Think about something which would give you some personal satisfaction; start small, think of something free or inexpensive. Right now I’m thinking of being alone on a mountain and the way the principle of self love works, I will set a day aside; Thursday works for me, so Thursday it is.
On the fated day, I’ll role up a wrapper or bed sheet, carry a few sandwiches and fried meat, pack a novel and perhaps my favorite beverages, look for a safe spot up a small hill or a secluded part of a community park where I can sprawl under a tree for some hours by myself and appreciate the freedom to be alone. Everything I can’t attend to before I leave home on Thursday will have to wait, and if my phone is on, it’s only so I can be reached in an emergency. Anyone calling me in my ‘safe place’ may not realize it, but they wouldn’t be getting my attention. Self love!
Whether it’s a good book, a movie, yoghurt, or a glass of wine that transports you into your ‘safe place’, it is important to realize that without taking out the time to give yourself a treat often and on, you’ll be bottling up a lot of the stresses that come with having to accommodate the people who interact with you daily, and we all know what happens when you build up pressure in a confined space don’t we?
Start by making a list of the favorite things you’d like to do for yourself, and make an effort not to have an expensive list or items you expect someone else to purchase for you; that’s just counterproductive because you’ll be entangling yourself with considerations which involve that person, defeating the whole point. Be yourself, take time to be an individual unit, and never forget to treat yourself to some self love.