What exactly is self-love? I have often wondered. We hear a lot about self-love, but how do we really define it and to what degree can we indulge in philautia without becoming selfish or narcissistic? While researching on this, I came across Aristotle’s definition. He states that people who love themselves to achieve unwarranted personal gain are selfish/erroneous, but those who love themselves to achieve virtuous principles are the best sort of good. This helped me understand a lot about self. To expand on this definition, it can be established that self-love is not about personal gain. It is about achieving virtue. It is about having a state of mind, where virtue is dominant. It is about, respecting oneself and loving oneself enough to reach a plateau of moral, ethical and virtuous principle. To define these principles, we need to delve deeper into moral philosophy. However, when you focus on taming yourself, it is essential to derive satisfaction from the day to day good deeds. To love oneself, it is important to see yourself as a source of “good”. To become “good”, you need to first learn to forgive and be patient.
To reach this realization, an individual must go through a life experience which forces one to ponder over oneself, their purpose and their situation. I have found that those who are quick to produce conclusions and are often satisfied by their view and opinions only are the ones who have not yet reached the maturity or the life experience required to practice philautia. People who will go the extra mile to justify their actions, their words and their reasoning, but they will not stop to take in the present reality or the “bigger picture”. They often pretend things are not in their control, and they often make it seem like they are always innocent and always wise. To them, their actions always make sense regardless of the present reality. They will come in your life, and just start telling you what they perceive is and will always be the correct – even about yourself. So how do you escape the narcissistic clutches of such people? By practicing self-love. You understand your worth. You understand self. You put the virtuous principles on top of each situation that is presented to you, and you define yourself with forgiveness and patience. It is dangerous to give such people the power to play with your emotions. By learning to master your emotions, you can alleviate the negative effect they tend to create on your life.
For him, the case was no different. He was always a strong person, but at certain times he could not master his emotions. He always practiced self-love to an extent but never really understood the true meaning of the same. Hence after the debacle, he started taming himself. He distanced himself from the darkness created by the narcissism of people, who he thought once cared for him. During the recovery, he forgave and during the taming – he focused on realization. He focused on how to be virtuously superior than his former self. He spent his days trying to have a positive impact on everyone he met. He practiced patience in everyday activities. The last time I met him, he was adamant on producing nothing but peace through his actions. “I believe in making things happen with one’s own effort and persistence” He told me. “But now I have grown enough to understand that some things are not worth it” I listened to him speak rather triumphantly. “The endeavor that creates good, is always worth it. But the tasks and people associated with it that only demand fuel for their narcissistic gains are not” I smiled and took a hearty sip from my cup of coffee and questioned him, “How do you tell one from another?” There was some silence and then he explained, “It takes wisdom to be able to tell one from another. Normally, we get into situations far too deep to reach a point to be able to make a sound judgment” He looked at me and concluded, “to have that wisdom – we all must spend a lifetime in the wrong situations and with the wrong people” . . .