Start treating your Self like someone you love.
J. Mike Fields, Life Coach
Love shows up in most religious traditions as a most important thing. Jesus’ famous words agree with the teachers of his Jewish tradition that loving God and others as one’s self was the most important commandment. One whole branch of Buddhism makes loving kindness or compassion the essence of the Buddhist path. That’s encouraging. And, it creates a problem.
Do I love you, and “those people” and the Earth, because that’s what is in my heart or because I’ve been told that I’m supposed to?
If we listen to the chatter we say to ourselves much of the time, we might be shocked. Self-messages are almost always running memories of the messages we were handed early in life. “I’m stupid. I’m slow. I never get it right. I’m no good at this. I hate myself. I hate my life. I hate the way I look. I don’t know how. I’m no good.”
It seems to me that the path to love is always going to be difficult to stay on if we don’t start with ourselves. If we start the day with some gratitude for our lives, our attributes, our accomplishments, and the things we can do, then we have named things that we love about ourselves. If we can see things in ourselves that we love, the windows into other people become so much clearer and open–for loving them–even when they aren’t loving themselves.
Some religions don’t focus on love so much, but they do insist that there is no separation between you and me and that tree outside the window. Unitarian Universalists see an interdependent web of all existence. If that is true, then however I treat myself is how I treat you, and however I treat you is how I treat myself. We are inextricably linked, and so when I choose that pathway to love for myself, I’m choosing it for you, too.
Why love? Not because of a command so much as because of a view. When I see you, I must see me, and I want to be included in the circle of love. Love is the way the universe hangs.