For thousands of years we’ve been told we are fallen creatures – outcasts from the garden of Eden. That we are selfish, weak, deeply flawed individuals unworthy of our creator. Taught that our wants and desires are the root cause of all evil. That these are our greatest downfall against which we must make it life’s mission to fight.
What we’ve been taught is to hate ourselves.
Now I know many people will argue with me about this. And I certainly don’t mean to lay all the blame at religion’s door. I agree that would be far too simplistic an argument.
But the overriding point I want to make is that it terms of being unkind to ourselves, in terms of seeing ourselves as bad for having certain wants and desires – wherever that comes from – it runs deep in our collective psyches.
And that’s a big fucking problem.
For starters hating on our own wants and desires is exactly what gives them strength. Did no one ever teach you that you must embrace your demons?
Yeah me neither.
But a bigger problem is that in hating ourselves, despite being (largely) decent people, we fail to stand up to tyranny and oppression when it’s required. Our self loathing shrinks us as individuals. I would argue that it is this, more than anything else, that allows evil to thrive. (It goes hand in hand with people’s inability to say no when they should.)
So what to do about it?
For starters I suggest you stand up tall with your head held high. That you talk to yourself every morning. You give yourself an almighty pep talk. You become clear about who you are and what it is you stand for. Then I suggest you treat yourself with the same level of care and attention you would your own children. I suggest you make the same level of sacrifice for yourself.
Because you are far more capable than you know. Because you are far stronger than you give yourself credit. Because you are worth it.
But also because you are inextricably connected to everyone else on this planet and treating yourself badly hurts the very people you love. Because hatred thrives if you don’t.
You’ve all heard of the golden rule right? To treat others as you would like to be treated. While I agree it’s particularly pertinent for those who think they are superior to others, for those of you who suffer from crippling self doubt – who think the opposite – I suggest you flip it on it’s head and consider this second golden rule instead.
That is to treat yourself as you would someone you love. To look after yourself like you would your best friend or your spouse or your mother or your child. To value your life just as highly as those around you. To understand that your life is just as important.
Because it is.