Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We typically think of the Golden Rule as an outward action and yet it is important to treat ourselves gently, too. Being kind to self is known as “self-compassion”.
To better understand what kind of a friend we are to self begins with listening to our “self-talk; all those thoughts that trip across our brain cells all day long every day. Most of us are hard on ourselves, even cruel, at times. Where does self-talk originate?
Coming into this world our spirit-self has left the Eternal Flame, the Father of Lights, God, to experience life on earth. We are born a unique personality into a human body possessing an eternal spirit. Our purpose is to experience life and hopefully learn from our experiences and about ourselves. We live in a world of duality. Everything has an opposite; light and dark, love and hate, winner and loser, up and down, happy and sad, and the list goes on. The information we receive into our conscious and subconscious mind are full of these dual messages. What we do with some of the dual messages is up to us.
Depending upon our upbringing, our individual personalities, and our life experiences we will subconsciously embrace these messages. Within a short period of time these messages become our self-talk. As we embrace and subsequently use these messages the self-talk reveals a lot about what we think and feel toward self. Most of us have an overriding theme to our self-talk, either positive or negative. Realizing this explanation is a simplistic view of a complex issue, we get the idea, right?
When life is difficult what messages go through our brains? “This is your fault. If you weren’t such a mess and a loser this wouldn’t have happened” Or maybe we hear, “I’m not pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough”. When life goes our way do we hear, “I don’t deserve this”, or “Life is going too well; I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop.”? Self-critical messages like these are harmful to our well being leading to poor self-esteem, poor self-worth and depression, and prevent us from the reality of being the unique brilliant spirit we are. Trust me on this one – I am a graduate of the university of life and experience! Alas, we have the capacity to learn, grow, and change our thoughts, our lives, and our realities. When any negative thought trips across our brain cells in response to a situation or a negative comment from another, we can stop the negative thought in its tracks and replace it with a positive thought. Many of us fall into the trap of internalizing a negative situation or comment adopting it as part of our self-talk as if it is our reality instead of what it truly is; a negative situation or comment outside of our control. The process is neither easy, nor quick, especially since many of us have deeply embedded negative self-talk messages going through our brains daily.
Emerging from the mire of negative self-talk is a process that goes hand-in-hand with practicing self-compassion. The realization we are not subject to the opinions of others will help us rewrite the story our negative thoughts have written. Many of those opinions have shaped the stories of our lives, much like a self-fulfilling prophecy; we believe something about ourselves and in turn our behavior reflects the belief. Recognizing there is a pattern to our beliefs about self and subsequent behavior allows us to intervene, to interrupt the erroneous belief and replace it with a truth, and then we behave according to the new truth. We needn’t start a complete overhaul of negative thinking, however. Replacing negative self-talk with positive messages is a journey; a journey of discovery and healing, a rewrite of one page at a time.
Enter self-compassion. We are taught in church we need to forgive others so that God can forgive us. I agree forgiveness toward others is a healthier response than allowing anger and bitterness to build and consume us, yet the one person to whom we rarely extend forgiveness is self. We are our worst critic; we use words far more harsh with ourselves than others would toss our way. Not only that, but we cannot leave it alone, repeatedly berating and beating ourselves up for minor transgressions leading to the poor self-esteem, poor self-worth, and depression. One of the definitions for depression is anger turned inward, and we know how destructive and life-robbing depression can be. At the end of the day all of us are fallible human beings; we make mistakes, wrong decisions, say mean things to others in the heat of the moment, and judge others based upon very little information.
I part ways with the Christian belief that we are sinful beings in need of forgiveness requiring us to come before God and humbly apologize for everything we have ever done in our lives, begging His forgiveness for transgressions we may or may not even remember from the time of our birth. For many of us that is our first introduction to being “saved”; we crawl to the altar having been told we are flawed, filthy rags bereft of hope outside of salvation and a thorough cleansing in the blood of the Lamb. We repeat a few words and walk away “saved” because we have “confessed” our unworthiness to a Holy God. Truthfully, I never really understood that line of thinking, and I am one of those people who cannot just wholeheartedly swallow something I don’t understand, or at least makes sense on some level.
The reality is we are spirit beings having a human experience and within the experiences of living through our humanness we will make mistakes, wrong decisions and intentionally or unintentionally hurt others. In the process the goal is to learn from the mistakes, recognize the wrong decisions, and when possible, right the wrongs done to others. We are not our thoughts and actions; we are a spark from the Universal Consciousness many of us know as God. God is pure love, and it is from this love source we came and will return.
Fortunately, I finally did come to the conclusion I can have a relationship with Yeshua, the Divine Energy, and forego man’s attempt to control the relationship through organized religion. In the process I am learning the value of self-compassion. I choose to see myself through the Divine; a spark from the flame of pure love and to rise above the dual messages of the world and live from the spirit-self core whose essence is love. Loving others begins with loving self and accepting the flaws, and forgiving ourselves for the mistakes and missteps of our humanity. They are nothing more than the learning experiences along the journey of life…..