Change is Needed!

Be the change you want to see in the world.

  – Gandhi

I was on a plane the other day, zoning out as the safety talk began. I was reminded for the countless time that in the event of an emergency I should put my oxygen mask on first before helping others.

This is something deeply programmed in me – when on a plane. It’s fascinating sad how we often forget this principle: of taking care of ourselves first, before helping others, so that we can help others. We not only don’t take care of ourselves, we often hurt ourselves.

Additionally, I was recently on a hike with some girlfriends on which I relied heavily on my friend to be in charge of route finding. This was not discussed before we started, but it was an assumed role we have developed over the years (although typically for other hikes with friends, I’m the trail guide – so I understand the responsibility and pressure).

About 6 miles into our hike we realized we had made a wrong turn at a junction 2 miles into the hike. We turned around with the unspoken realization that even if we went back and got on the correct trail, it would be too long of a day to summit the mountain we set out to do.

While my friend that was leading was pissed at herself, my other friend and I were just happy to be outside on a gorgeous day in the mountains. Sure, climbing a peak is cool, but it was still a pretty awesome day; and besides, it was ALL our collective “faults” for not bringing the correct route instructions (I didn’t even bring a map and I wholly relied on someone else without even checking in). I was just as much to “blame.”

My “trail guide” girlfriend couldn’t let it go, and remained disappointed that she “ruined” our day by making a wrong decision. She called herself “stupid” and an “idiot” and said that she’d never live it down (not sure who was going to bring it up besides her).

Comical isn’t it, how we are so much harder on ourselves than we would ever be to someone else? I would go so far to say we are crueler to ourselves than we are to our enemies. No, it’s not funny.

I was more than bothered by her response, and it was painful to witness, mainly because I recognized myself in her self-loathing. I’ve beaten myself up so many times for what seemed to me as BIG MISTAKES when others didn’t seem to get what my problem was and why I was so worked up.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told to just “let it go” by a loved one thinking they were administering savvy advice. Advice that never feels good and is totally confusing to the recipient… we’d LOVE to let it go, if only we knew how!

What makes us think we can treat ourselves so poorly? Why is it ok to dishonor our self worth, be unforgiving and expect perfection?

I bring up these two examples above because I’ve been struggling lately as I read the news. I’ve been trying to make sense of seemingly senseless acts. One question that keeps coming up for me is – how would the world be different if each one of us had deep self-love and respect for ourselves?

If we fully loved ourselves, then maybe we could give love fully and whole-heartedly. It’s sort of like the oxygen mask on a plane: we need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others.

By witnessing my friend’s behavior, by seeing how the world has enough pain, hate and disrespect – I renewed my vow to love myself fully so I may fully love others.

I must be thoughtful with how I talk to myself, with what I do with my life, and how I am in the world. I will not expect perfection and will take every misstep as an opportunity to learn about myself on a deeper level. Like any worthwhile relationship, it will take constant work.

I wonder what you can shift in order to love yourself deeper? Where do you fail in your relationship with yourself? Are you sticking with an unsatisfying job? Are you living for work? Are you telling yourself you are_______ (fill in the blank… not smart enough, not young enough, not wealthy enough, not skinny enough…) to do the thing you secretly dream of? Are your dreams buried so deep under all these saboteurs and negative self talk that you don’t even think you have any dreams or passions?

If we don’t love and respect ourselves and make ourselves a priority – then how can we expect our ________ (fill in the blank – our partner, boss, sibling, parent, friend… ) to do what we don’t do for ourselves?