I’ve been in several conversations recently with people who tell me things like, “Sara, I’m much more compassionate with everybody else than I am with myself… in fact, I treat everyone else better than I treat myself!”
To some extent, I think we do that naturally as human beings. But I don’t think it happens as often or as severely as we’d like to believe. Here’s why: If we’re not compassionate with ourselves, our compassion with others is limited.
And it’s not just compassion. This idea extends to trust, love and generosity. I can’t imagine Mother Theresa not having compassion for herself, can you?
In the same sense, someone who is judgmental of themselves couldn’t not be judgmental with others. It’s just their habit and their pattern of thinking. It’s how they live.
So, while we may be less judgmental of other people than we are of ourselves, if we’re being harsh with ourselves, we’re probably judging others more intensely than we realize. Possibly because it feels so normal to us.
Relax into the Energetic Ebb and Flow of the World
There is an ebb and flow between each individual and the rest of the world. What we do not have internally, we cannot share with the outside world. In the same vein, what we cannot receive from the outside world, we can’t connect with internally.
If I can’t receive love from other people, I’m not truly giving it to myself.
When I’m able to love myself, however, I’m able to receive love from others to a greater degree. And when I can receive more love from others, I’m able to love myself more. This pattern creates an upward spiral.
We Can Learn to Love
Let’s say there is a young child who doesn’t love herself and doesn’t have a very large opening to receive.
In time, she may learn to love herself by being loved by someone else. Yet, the love she receives from another person can only go so far if she doesn’t, in turn, actively begin loving herself.
Option A is that the child won’t really internalize the love that the other person is trying to share with her, so there’s no ebb and flow and she stays closed off until she truly learns to receive the love.
Option B is that, if she is able to internalize the love and really bring it in, her capacity to accept love from others will increase. That will, in turn, increase her capacity to love herself.
And after all, loving oneself is really all about a capacity for giving and receiving.
I love this YouTube video that compares the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. They are so close together, and both are fed by the River Jordan, but while one sea teems with life, the other cannot sustain life because of its high salt content:
Can you see a parallel between the two bodies of water and the way we give and receive in life? Balance sustains us. If we aren’t generous with ourselves, we cannot be generous with others.
Today, take a step back and look at the day-to-day ebb and flow of your life. Where are you being open and allowing yourself to receive? Where are you allowing flow to move back and forth?
And similarly, where can you increase your inner flow to have greater fluidity with the rest of the world? The world is starving for more flow. I’d love to hear your thoughts on simple ways we can all create more.