Compassionately Loving Ourselves to Finding Life’s Purpose

Compassionately loving ourselves and our frailties can help us find our life’s purpose in the world, even though many of us have been taught that loving others is more important.

I have always struggled with my purpose. Being the daughter of a charismatic man with tremendous energy and a world stage upon which to travel has undoubtedly blown up the importance of knowing my purpose while at the same time creating conflicts about what to do. But that has not calmed my efforts to come up with some concrete answer.

The best I can articulate is that my purpose is to be a lover. That satisfies my ego. I have a name for myself and can consider the matter closed. Yet that doesn’t satisfy me because I am not sure I can say succinctly what being a lover requires.

The obvious thing is that I can be kind. I can help when help is needed. I can be a mirror that reflects the best in the person I relate to. I can do as Jesus commands, “Help the poor, the sick, and the needy.” All of that is good, and I carry out as many virtuous tasks as possible, but somehow, I don’t feel like that gets close enough to what I am trying to emulate.

I can start by looking at the level of loving myself. It makes sense that this is a place to start. If I do not love myself, then whatever I do in the outside world is a kind of commerce, e.g., I will do for you so that you will do for me. I will be loving so people will think well of me. I will save the world to be a hero to at least myself, if not to God.

So, how do I love myself? For me, the first step is for me to acknowledge that I am human. I will make mistakes. I will cause harm. I will fall and not know how to pick myself up. And so, compassion about my limitations is a good place to start loving myself. I can gather the tools to help me find my way home. But I need to remember that being human means embracing the perfection of imperfection.

How do you bring compassion to your limitations, vulnerabilities, and failures? Does compassion for yourself allow you to be more compassionate to others? And on the other hand, does compassion for others help you be more compassionate to yourself? Perhaps we can find healing in both.