When I was young I was confused by the phrase ‘love your neighbour as yourself‘. I mean, what if I don’t love myself? If I dislike myself then does that mean I can dislike other people?
Over time it became clear to me that it is not a command, rather it is a statement of fact; the way we view others is a reflection of how we view ourselves. In other words truly loving other people is only possible when we are comfortable with ourselves.
How we feel towards ourselves is the pool from which our attitude towards other people flows.
We see reflected in others the stuff we notice in ourselves. It’s why we may tend hypocritically to pick on the flaws in others when we feel or know we have them ourselves. If you are conscious about a certain aspect of your appearance then you may notice that same thing in other people.
Roman Krznaric says in Empathy that “if you fail to love and accept who you are then there is a danger of living a flakey life of searching for meaning and purpose in the experiences of everyone else and the external world”.
Strength in knowing and understanding yourself gives you a solid foundation to return to when you empathise with others. You can step into their skin without feeling like you want to either a) judge and change them, or b) blindly follow them.
Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask before Helping Others With Theirs
Self-care is building a home where we can return to re-energise, stabilise, and renew ourselves. In this week’s show I explore these 6 ways we can better take care of ourselves:
1. Discern Your Own Feelings and Accept Them
Relationships begin with listening.
You don’t get to know someone if you don’t listen, and you can’t truly love or empathise with someone if you don’t want to know them.
The same is true when it comes to ourselves. We have got to listen to what we are saying deep down.
2. Ask for Help
It doesn’t make you strong when you choose to do everything on your own. It depletes our resources, prevents people who want to help from helping, and stops us from doing the key things we should concentrate on doing.
3. Give Yourself Good Things
You only get out what you put in. This is exactly the same when we talk about self-care. Give to yourself the stuff you need to nourish your souls and bring you to life.
4. Speak Up in the Face of Injustice
What do you feel beating in your heart? Recognise the power that it has within you and speak up about it. It might sound like a vulnerable and extremely scary thing to force yourself to do; it may even sound like the opposite of loving yourself. But it’s not. You will thank yourself later and find new energy and confidence about your impact on the world.
5. Do Work that You Enjoy
It can sound a bit idealistic to say you should do a job or work that you actually enjoy, but I have had so many conversations with people where it has been clear that one of the biggest reasons they don’t like their job is because of the view they have of themselves.
We can forget to enjoy ourselves; to play with the world, and hold more gently to the stresses and strains of life. An attitude of play comes when we let go of those things we have no control over and see each moment as an opportunity to which we can give ourselves.
Our attitude is the only thing we truly have control over. But often it is our attitude that can be the catalyst to change everything. So make time and space to play. Embrace a playful attitude to life. It’s what you need, it’s what you deserve.
Over to You
Question: Do you find the concept of self-care or self-love easy to accept or are you like many of us and struggle a bit with giving yourself permission to put your own mask on first before helping others? (please leave your response in the comments below)