Do Unto Yourself


Not long ago, I heard something from a good friend, Gail Blanke, that struck me as brilliant. Her advice was to practice the Golden Rule in a way you don’t often hear in the advice columns. She said to practice it on yourself. Treat yourself as you wish others would treat you. That sounds as if advice nobody needs to offer, at first, but the more you think about it, the more it makes sense as an admonition. Gail’s point was that we are living through tough times. Good jobs are scarce. Debt is deep. And horrific events, like the shooting in Connecticut, or political unrest in the Middle East, can easily shake your ability to see the goodness in yourself, your life, and your world. It’s easy to forget that you are doing the best you can. If someone else is down on her luck, it’s so easy to be comforting and reassuring. You would tell her things will get better, or that she’s got what it takes to get through it, and so on. But do you usually relate to yourself this way? You should. In my ways, it’s more difficult to treat yourself with compassion than it is to direct nurturing care toward others. As Gail says, “Follow Wayne Dyer’s sage advice, ‘Be gentle and forgiving with yourself, abandon any and all shame, and refuse to engage in self-repudiation.’ And if you feel like wrapping your arms around somebody, you know what to do . . .” It’s easy to be self-indulgent. It’s much harder to be deeply caring and kind with yourself. We tend to think we’ll do better in the future if we’re tough and unyielding on ourselves now. Yet how well does that work on others? Think about it next time you face a setback or reversal. Be kind and unwind, and know that you’re fortunes and your choices will be better soon. One thing the ancient Chinese understood: life comes in waves and cycles. If today you’re as low as you can get, tomorrow you’ll be on your way back up. It’s just how life works. Don’t punish yourself for failures; simply make good choices based on what you’ve learned and move ahead. Suffering will refine your soul and temper it with the strength to be good in the future.