We all know the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. It’s possibly the earliest moral lesson I was taught in my life, although I don’t specifically remember the first time I heard it. But what about turning that around? What about treating ourselves as we would treat other people?
In my life, the golden rule is a given. I don’t (at least not deliberately) treat other people in a way that I would find unacceptable if the treatment were directed at me instead. When it comes to how I treat myself, however, it’s a completely different story.
I’m my own most vocal critic. And I’m not talking about constructive criticism here. I’m talking about cruel, self-deprecating, abusive character assassination.
Any time I do something I consider “wrong”, I’m very quick to take the opportunity to remind myself how worthless I am. I’ve called myself lazy, ugly, stupid, hopeless, boring, and just about every other negative name you can imagine.
Such self-bashing cannot possibly have a positive result. And it doesn’t. I’ve finally got to the point in my life where I recognise that I’m only harming myself by gleefully enumerating (and liberally expanding on) my flaws to myself. I’m just destroying my own self-esteem.
However, when I’m faced with someone else’s shortcomings, I’m typically kind and generous. If someone hurts me in some way, my reaction is to try to understand what might have caused them to act that way. If their actions have damaged the relationship between us, I’m almost always keen to patch it up as soon as possible.
So if I’m kind to other people, why not to myself? When I’m down, why not build myself up rather than kicking myself?
In considering those questions, I’ve decided to turn the golden rule around and make a new rule for myself:
“Treat yourself at all times with the kindness you would show to others”