So much of what we see on television and movies, in magazines, and online is geared, whether intentionally or unintentionally, toward making us feel bad about ourselves. We think if we could only be skinnier, prettier, or richer, we would finally feel good about ourselves. But we won’t find the love we need if we keep looking for external validation. We need to look inward for that, according to bestselling author Ilchi Lee.
In his books, Earth Citizen and Earth Management: A Dialogue on Ancient Korean Wisdom and Its Lessons for a New Earth, Lee writes about how hope for the future of our planet and mankind is tied to learning to care both for ourselves and the world around us. Learning to love ourselves can be a hard lesson at any age.
Sometimes, creating feelings of self-approval can be as easy as turning on some inspiring music. Music has been important to mankind since the beginning of time, and it continues to be a universal way of expressing and exploring our feelings.
A K-pop group, BTS, also called the Bangtan Boys or, now, Behind the Scene, is one of the groups that is leading the charge for self-approval with songs that remind people to feel good about themselves. The South Korean boy band has seven members and has scored big with fans with hits like “Love Myself,” which carry messages many of us could benefit from.
Lee’s Take on the Importance of Loving Yourself
When you feel bad about yourself, you don’t feel love for yourself. That doesn’t only impact you, however. It can be hard to make connections with the people and places around you as well. You don’t feel as if you are worthy of the love of others—you can feel disengaged and isolated, so you push them away.
It’s hard to want to improve mankind and the world around you when you have so many feelings of negativity. That’s why it’s crucial to find a way to look inward, like what you see, and realize you can make a difference when you accept all that you are—and even all that you aren’t. Loving yourself opens you up to loving others, feeling empathy, and wanting to work toward the greater good. Instead of feeling isolated, you begin to feel as if you are a worthy and valued member of a team.
But the first step to loving yourself is getting to know yourself. That involves peeling back the superficial layers many of us use to describe ourselves and looking at our core beliefs and goals instead.
“When asked, ‘Who are you?’ people can’t answer, no matter how high their level of education or voluminous their knowledge. They’d be able to give their name. That name, though, is not who they are,” Lee said. “Knowing your true worth is different from knowledge. Once we’ve discovered our worth, we can love ourselves, we can heal ourselves, we can teach ourselves, and we can give ourselves enlightenment.”
Lee loves the message BTS is trying to put out for its audience—that they shouldn’t wander in search of love. Instead, they should look internally for that love. And once that love is unlocked, your heart and mind will be in synch so you’ll be able to use your brain to its fullest capacity.
Many people mistakenly think their brain isn’t worth much. They can feel inferior or even dumb because they didn’t do well in traditional school. But there are all different kinds of intelligence. And having emotional intelligence is every bit as important, if not more important, than the lessons you’ll learn about math and science in school.
“Did the Bangtan Boys have good grades? Did they graduate from good middle schools or high schools? No,” Lee said. “How did they become so famous, then? They discovered their self-worth and did what they really wanted to do. And the people around them helped, enabling them to do that. What I’m saying is that it wasn’t compulsory education.”
After you find a way to love yourself, Lee said, you also learn to heal yourself and teach yourself by using brain power. You begin to believe in yourself, knowing you can do things you once thought were impossible.
“It is ultimately the brain that discovers great dreams. It is also the brain that causes us to think, ‘This is it!’ of those great dreams. Your brain must awaken. Those whose brains are awake can find a great dream,” Lee said. “If your brain is not awake, though you have eyes, you cannot see, and though you have ears, you cannot hear. Your brain is locked, so your eyes and ears don’t open.”
By learning to love yourself, believing in yourself, caring about others, remembering you are part of the bigger picture, and unlocking the power of your brain, you can achieve great things—both for yourself and for the world.