Should we love ourselves? The question may seem preposterous. Isn’t that the obvious? It takes a minimum of confidence and self-esteem to venture to love. “You will love your neighbor as yourself”, reminds Jesus when asked about the first of the commandments.
Yet the spiritual and philosophical tradition has long distrusted what Saint Augustine called theamor sui and Pascal, self-esteem. “The nature of self-love and of this human ego is to love only oneself, and to consider only oneself”, do we read in the Thoughts. At the same time, the egoist that is man cannot ignore that “This object that he loves is not full of faults and misery”. But it is a truth to which he cannot consent. So he’s lying to himself. However, for the moralists and novelists of the XVIIe century, lying to yourself is the worst lie. Not to mention that the one who loves only himself cuts himself off from God – who is the source of love – and from others.
Today, the humanities take a more positive look at self-love, which is not synonymous with narcissism. Pope Francis echoes this in his exhortation The joy of love. “A certain priority of self-love can be understood only as a psychological condition, as one who is incapable of loving oneself encounters difficulties in loving others. “ But the risk of narcissism is in fact never completely ruled out, especially in a culture where people experience great emotional fragility. However, true love is that which is capable of going beyond self-love, to put the happiness of the other above his own desires and needs.