I’m sure you’ve heard of the Golden Rule. Most of us had. In case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard it, I’ll tell you what it is … “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Basically, it’s treat others the way you want to be treated. That’s a simple idea, right? It makes sense.
I like to turn the golden rule on its head sometimes. I call this the Platinum Rule. Okay, I don’t really call it that. I just made that name up a few seconds ago, but it sounds pretty good. I think I’ll use it from now on. The Platinum Rule is “Treat yourself like you want others to treat you.”
Many of us treat the people around us much better than we treat ourselves. We’re nicer to them. We don’t criticize them as harshly. We give them the benefit of a doubt. How many times have you beaten yourself up for the tiniest mistake? Yet, you’ve been able to forgive someone else for a similar mistake. That’s not right.
The world looks for clues about how to treat you from the example you set. How are you telling others to treat you? Are you telling them to be harsh and unforgiving? Are you telling them that you are not good enough, that you deserve nothing?
Sometimes, we find it harder to be kind to ourselves then we do others. It might be because we know ourselves so well. We know our imperfections and shortcomings. We know our most terrible thoughts.
You cannot be truly happy until you learn to treat yourself with the love and respect you deserve. You deserve it. Do you know how I know? I know because we all deserve it.
When I was in my late teens and early twenties I found this to be nearly impossible. All I saw when I looked in the mirror was disappointment. I didn’t look like the beautiful women in the magazines. I didn’t have the personalities of the sparkly, shiny people on television. I thought I didn’t have much value to offer anyone. I was lonely and deeply sad.
I’ve always had a bit of anxiety about dealing with other people. That’s something that I tend to beat myself up about. I’m shy. I’m quiet. I’d rather stay at home and read a good book than go to a party. I used to think I was the only one who was like that and that made me somehow less than other people.
When I was in my early twenties I got a job working at a bank. The training lasted one week and on the first day everyone went their separate ways for lunch. I always had a good book in the car just in case that happened. So I went to McDonald’s to have my lunch alone. Yes, I used to eat at McDonald’s. I don’t know what I was thinking.
Anyway, I was eating my hamburger and fries at the table near the window when I noticed one of the women from the bank teller training going through the drive through window. Once she got her food, she parked in a space in the parking lot and sat in her car to eat. It was cold out and something about the scene seemed so sad to me. I’m a writer, so I was able to make up a million stories about why she might’ve chosen to eat in her car alone instead of coming in and sitting at a table.
That’s the moment when I realized that we are all the same. Yeah, we all have our different strengths, but I’m not the only one with anxiety problems. I’m not the only one who is disappointed in herself. I’m not the only one who feels awkward at the party.
You don’t know what’s going on in the lives of others. You don’t know what their inner demons are. You don’t know what they struggle with daily. We all have struggles many are different, some are the same.
How to love yourself …
Don’t dwell on your mistakes. Forgive yourself. So what, you screwed up. We all do sometimes. Acknowledge it, do what you can to right it, and move on. No one is perfect, and thank goodness for that. If the world were full of perfect people it would be a pretty boring place. If you’re messing things up sometimes that means you’re doing something right. Beating yourself up over mistakes you’ve made once won’t change the mistake, and it certainly won’t help you.
Stop criticizing yourself. It’s an easy trap to fall into. Often times there is a gap between where you are and where you want to be. That’s what keeps you striving, learning, growing, and reaching out to discover something new. You need to silence that inner voice that is tearing you down. You need to build yourself up. Whenever you start criticizing yourself replace that thought with something you’re thankful for.
Stop worrying all the gosh-darn time. I’m a worrier. I’m a lot better than I used to be, but worry still tends to creep into my thoughts sometimes. The thing about worry is that you’re fretting over something that hasn’t happened and may never happen. Many times I find that when I worry I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill. I’m making a big deal out of something that might not happen, and if it does happen, so what. I’ll deal with it. Worrying is a waste of time.
Be kind to yourself …
Affirmation exercise …
Okay so this is the part where I tell you to look in the mirror and say somethings to yourself … I know … I know … I used to feel the same way about it, but doing this helped me feel way better about myself. Just trust me on this one and do it.
We all have imperfections. We all make mistakes. We have to learn to love ourselves imperfections and all. Yes, you should try to improve upon what yourself. I’m all for that, but you also need to accept yourself. You, my friend are a unique individual who is worthy of love and respect.
For this first exercise I want you to look at yourself in the mirror and say this out loud…
I love you even though …
Finish this sentence with mistakes you’ve made or things about yourself that you are disappointed in or upset by.
For example …
I love you even though you still haven’t lost that last ten pounds.
I love you even though you procrastinate important tasks.
Look at yourself right in the eyes as you say finish this sentence. Think of at least ten things to say. If you can think of more say more. Say it like you mean it. Say it until you really feel it. It’s hard to talk about our weaknesses aloud even when there is no one else around, but it can also be quite freeing.
Now that you’ve done that, I want you to complete this sentence.
I love you because …
This is the part where you think of specific things that you like about yourself. think of specific moments in your life that make you proud. Think of qualities that you have that are good.
I love you because you had the courage to travel the world alone.
I love you because you sincerely care about other people.
Again think of at least ten things to say, but if you can think of more than ten things to say that’s great. Keep going. Remember to look yourself in the eyes and say it like you mean it.
Do this everyday for thirty days. It only takes a few minutes and it will greatly affect the way you feel about yourself.
Once you feel better about yourself you’ll find it easier to make positive lasting change in your life.
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