What if I told you that the only thing that's standing between you and happiness is self-love? "What about love and money?" you ask. Well... yes, they do help us create a fulfilling life but the key to having them is self-love.
What is self-love?
The term 'self-love' initially made me uncomfortable but perhaps that was a sign that I didn't understand what it means to love myself. I associated self-love with conceit, arrogance and complacency, things I strive to avoid and eliminate from my state of being. I used to think self-love was antithetical to Islam, a faith that is characterised by modesty and humility, but then I realised God said, "But those who committed misdeeds and then repented after them and believed - indeed your Lord, thereafter, is Forgiving and Merciful.... My Mercy encompasses all things" (Surah al-A'raf 153, 156).
Today, I define self-love as self-compassion - the art of being kind to one self. It's simple but revolutionary because it involves a paradigm shift.
Being kind to yourself is more than about being nice to yourself. Kindness entails honesty, authenticity, forgiveness, sincerity, gentleness and having good intentions. When someone is compassionate, thoughtful, wants the best for us and withholds judgment, they're being kind. What if we treated ourselves this way?
Our lack of compassion for ourselves and for others is the reason why the words uttered by Prophet Yunus remain a powerful supplication today: "There is no deity but You. Glory be to You! Verily, I have been among the wrongdoers/oppressors" (Surah Anbiya, 87). We don't have to choose between divine love and self-love because they are interdependent and interconnected. We oppress ourselves and others when we lack self-love. Why are we unkind to ourselves when everything God decrees or allows is out of His Wisdom and Mercy? Even when He allows us to go through hardships He is like a doctor who prescribes unpleasant tasting medicine for us to consume until we are better. The unpleasantness is only temporary. Who knows what great blessing you will receive in the future because of what you patiently endure today or because of what you've learned from your trials and hardships?