There is a teaching that can be found in all major religions and is generally known as The Golden Rule. In the Bible, particularly in the story of The Good Samaritan, Jesus says to “love your neighbor as you love yourself”
In case you’re not familiar with the story of The Good Samaritan, a Jewish man is robbed and left for dead on the side of the road. One Jewish man walks by him and does nothing. A second Jewish man walks by him and does nothing. Finally, a Samaritan walks by and helps the man and takes care of him. This is in spite of the fact that the Jewish people and the Samaritan people didn’t get along.
The point of the story is to treat all people with the kindness that we show ourselves, regardless of whether we agree with their beliefs and actions or not. However, I think that there is a key to this teaching that is often missed. At least I’ve never heard it talked about. It seems to be presumed that if you are supposed to treat others well and you’re supposed to treat others as you treat yourself, then you must be treating yourself well, to begin with.
Now, I don’t know about you but there was a time in my life when, if I would’ve treated other people the way I treated myself, I would’ve been beaten up. In fact, I would have never tolerated someone speaking to me the way I spoke to myself. I said the worst possible things to myself! I told myself how much I hated myself, that I was stupid and worthless, and that I never got anything right. My absolute favorite thing to tell myself was that I failed at life. I said that one pretty regularly.
I’m sure that you can just imagine the life that I had created for myself with this kind of self-talk. I was in fact pretty miserable. My relationships with others were not what I wanted, and really neither was anything else in my life. I was flat out to mean to myself the majority of the time.
Since then I have learned that my relationships with others are an exact reflection of my relationship with myself.
You are only able to show kindness and love to others when you can show yourself kindness and love.
So I ask you again. Are you treating yourself with kindness, respect, and love?
The most important relationship you will ever have is the one that you have with yourself. You are with you all the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The relationship you have with yourself is the foundation from which every other relationship you have is built. You will not be able to have healthy relationships with other people until you have a loving relationship with yourself.
Here are some steps that you can take to create a healthy relationship with yourself.
1. Say nice things to yourself
If you want to have a good relationship with yourself than the first thing to do is to develop positive self-talk. Retrain your brain to tell yourself nice things. Praise yourself! This starts with awareness. We are constantly thinking all day long. Start to notice what you say to yourself. When you complete a project that you’ve been working on, do you tell yourself “Good job!” and celebrate, or do you sit there and pick apart everything that you think you could’ve done better.
Start with just being aware of what you’re saying to yourself.
Then start to shift what you’re saying to comments that are loving and supportive. If you’re having trouble telling yourself good things than purchasing an affirmation tape and listen to it as often as you can. Eventually, you’ll internalize the affirmations that you’re hearing so that you can begin to tell yourself good things as well.
2. Pay attention to your emotions
It is absolutely impossible to be aware of every thought that you are having. You simply have too many of them.
Your emotions stem from your thoughts, therefore if you are paying attention to how you are feeling you will be far more able to catch and shift negative thoughts.
If you start feeling frustrated or angry start listening to what you’re telling yourself and start telling yourself something different. Any time that you start feeling negativity toward yourself or others, use that as an opportunity to listen to what you are saying to yourself.
3. Take the time to take care of yourself
I can’t stress enough the importance of taking care of yourself.
When you take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, you also tell yourself that you matter.
You reinforce your importance when you take care of yourself. I see so many people who don’t take the time to do this. The better care you take of yourself the more you will be able to contribute to the world. Show yourself that you matter by giving yourself a positive and nurturing environment, exercising and getting enough sleep, and taking time out to engage in activities that you love and that lift up your energy.
4. Reward yourself
Pay attention to your success and reward yourself, especially for the little things. It is so easy to focus so much on the next thing that you have to achieve, or how far you still have to go, that you forget to celebrate the success you just had. It is the little steps that you take each and every day that lead to your big successes.
Celebrate the little steps you take by acknowledging them before you move on to the next thing.
Take one step at a time in creating a loving relationship with yourself and that relationship will be reflected with positive changes in your outside world, especially in your relationships with other people.
Developing a healthy relationship with yourself takes time, practice, and awareness. Show yourself kindness during this process by being patient with yourself and taking it one little step at a time.
Previously published on “Hello, Love”, a Medium publication.
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