It is possible to adopt a loving view of ourselves. And it is one of the wisest things we can do.
The process begins with some self-reflection. For example, consider these questions:
How well do you like yourself? Which of the following statements best represents your relationship with yourself?
I absolutely love myself.
I’m okay, but I really get on my nerves sometimes.
I have more things I dislike about myself than I love about myself.
I hate myself.
If you are like a lot of people, it is really hard for you to agree with the statement:“I absolutely love myself.”
Many of us learn early on to be very critical and unloving to ourselves, and we do not often learn skills that help us to be good friends with ourselves. Because of this, we miss out on one of the most important friendships of our lives: our friendship with ourselves.
Since we are the closest person to us, our friendship with ourselves is actually extremely important. And it causes us a great deal of pain when we do not understand how to be friends with ourselves.
On the other hand, when we learn to be good friends with and love ourselves, this can be a source of profound healing, peace, and encouragement. It can solve a lot of our problems.
I struggled a lot of my life understanding how to be a good friend to myself. In fact, for most of my life, I would say that I acted like an enemy to myself. Even though I did not realize it at the time, my inability to be a good friend to myself caused me a great deal of sadness, loneliness, and pain, and anxiety.
It also made it really difficult for me to be a good friend to others, too.
I think many people struggle with these same issues. The good news is that being friends with yourself is a skill you can develop through certain practices and habits.
One of the most important things you can do to become a good friend to and cultivate love for yourself is to think of yourself like a little child (I know this sounds a little weird, but keep reading).
I love to see people around very little children and babies. Babies usually bring out the best in everyone. And people love to shower babies with love, gentleness, affection, and encouragement.
For example, when babies are sick, afraid, or tired, we shower them with care and compassion. Have you ever heard someone say to a baby, “What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you as good as the other babies? You need to get your act together. You need to be more attractive.” Generally speaking we would never even dream of saying this kind of thing to a baby or a little child.
Why? Because we realize that babies are beautiful little vessels of love, potential, joy.
What they need to develop this is love, nurturing, care, protection and encouragement. They do not need harsh words and criticism. In fact, we recognize that these types of behaviors can actually prevent babies and young children from gaining confidence and flourishing.
Unfortunately, as people get older we tend to shift from nurturing, encouraging, and comforting modes of relating to them. And we start to relate to them in harsh, critical, demanding modes. We criticize each other for all of our perceived flaws. And we criticize each other for not meeting our expectations. We are harsh and mean to one another and treat each other as objects to be manipulated to get what we want. And we forget the beautiful light of love, goodness, and joy that we were all born with. Because of this, we treat each other in ways that squelch this light, rather than nurturing it.
We do this to ourselves, too.
For example, we criticize our perceived flaws. And we criticize ourselves for not meeting our own expectations. We treat ourselves as an object whose goal is to win attention, fame, money, and success, rather than realizing that we are still the beautiful baby we once were. And we still have our light of love, goodness, and joy that needs to be nurtured and cultivated.
To cultivate our light, we need to treat ourselves more like we would a baby.
In my next post I will look at how we can do that in the next to suggestion for becoming a better friend to ourselves. Today, imagine yourself like a beautiful little child and treat yourself accordingly.
Published by shellypruittjohnson
My name is Shelly Johnson, and I am a writer and philosopher with a Ph.D. in philosophy. One of my primary personal and philosophical interests is how we can learn to love ourselves and each other better in order to cultivate personal and political resilience. I teach ethics and a variety of other courses at a local college. I am the author of the blog Love is Stronger. I am also the author of three logic and critical thinking books for high school and middle school: _Argument Builder_, _Discovery of Deduction_ (co-author), and _Everyday Debate_, published by Classical Academic Press. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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