When we are young, many of our good actions are taught in how we relate to others. We shouldn’t lie to or hurt someone. When we make a mistake, we should say sorry. Less often are we taught to practice these same good traits towards ourselves. It is not that difficult to forgive others when we see our mercy as a source of ego/negative pride. Sometimes we forgive because we are aware of our own imperfections – this is even more difficult. But the most difficult forgiveness is when we choose to forgive ourselves. When we know the inside and the out, we enter the roles of the judge, jury, executioner, and the decision feels unclear. Self-love looks like selfishness and so we choose to easy way out: self-punishment. We battle with who we were yesterday and forget that we are under no obligation to remain the same. We are allowed to change.
How often do we hurt, punish, and lie to ourselves? We don’t see these actions as hurtful when dealing with ourselves. The capacity or our love is tested most when we come face to face with our own actions. A good way to evaluate self-love is by considering how you treat your closest loved ones. Does how you interact with them match your inner voice? Most of us forget we are human with the natural tendency to make mistakes. We do not always treat ourselves with the mercy and forgiveness that we deserve.
Like everything that we give, it must first be in our possession. To love others, we must first love ourselves. To offer someone else security, we must first feel secure. Likewise, forgiveness cannot be given from an empty bucket. When we give from what we don’t have, we only find resentment, disappointment, and are left in a state of emotional paralysis. Make a conscious effort to keep all of these buckets full, available, ready for distribution – to yourself, and others. Replenish your own empty bucket first. So that when the time comes, you do not have to search deep inside and battle with where to find that love when you need it the most. You will have so much to offer that giving will not deplete your supply, but increase it.
Be kind to others, forgive others, love others. But also choose the noblest and hardest decision of them all. Choose to be kind, to forgive, and to love yourself. No one else can do this for you. In the end, it is only you.
Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves (13:11)