Wednesday / July 06 / 2011
The golden rule and self-love: why that shouldn’t find you in shackles
If you’re like me, you tend to have a problem with self-love. I believe I honor myself, treat myself well, and don’t have an issue with self-loathing. However I often have a hard time differentiating “self-love” from “selfishness”, as in the arrogant, all-about-me, screw-the-rest-of-you and any consequences kind of selfishness. In a purposeful effort to NOT be a “selfish” person, I sometimes forgo self-love. Does anyone else struggle with this?
The proverb that’s commonly called “The Golden Rule” states, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Most interpret that as, “If you don’t want someone to do it to you, don’t do it to them!”- which really waters down the message. A more proactive interpretation would be the one found in Eugene Peterson’s The Message (book of Luke, chapter 6, verse 31): “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! ”
My mentor Pat and I were talking about this proverb and she shared a comment from a friend of hers, who happens to be a nun. This wise nun noted (I’m paraphrasing here, mind you), “if we were really to do unto others as we do unto ourselves, a mass of us would find ourselves in shackles.” *wowza*
How interesting to view this proverb the other way around. All this while I’ve been thinking about how nicely I treat others and how great it would be if everyone treated me likewise. And along comes this ever-wise nun who points out that most of us don’t treat ourselves nearly well enough – and what sane individual would want that inflicted on them? More on that here for those of you still justifying your “I’ve settled” dating relationship.
I enjoy engaging with others and have true empathy for them, their feelings, inner most thoughts, dreams and desires. For me, it’s like a high to help others achieve acceptance of self through the evolution that is their unique, one-of-a-kind individual life. The lesson here is: it’s not wrong to turn this love toward one’s self – to have self-love and pursue the same practices for one’s own being.
If you think you’re worthless, you’ll be worthless. But if you think you have some value, you’ll act as though you have some value. And really, what better way to encourage others to embrace life? It’s that whole, “lead by example” thing.
Treat not only others – but also yourself – by respecting your individuality. Be kind, loving, respectful and accepting. Embrace the life that is yours and work to evolve into the best YOU you can be. Afterall, no one else can.