Ainsley Thurgood/Photo Assistant

Have you ever thought of treating yourself the way you treat others?  

As individuals, even at a young age, we’re taught to have compassion for others. Every quote, motto and story that we learned revolved around the idea of showing kindness, respect and appreciation for our family, friends and superiors.  

It may suffice to say that such emphasis was laid on these foundations because it was assumed that we knew how to extend these values to ourselves.  

Even the infamous “golden rule” of treating others the way you’d like to be treated taught us to use ourselves as a benchmark for our behaviour to others. They never mentioned how exactly we establish this benchmark, let alone the fact that the rule implies that it can only be accomplished through the means of others.  

It’s not a bad rule. In fact, the rule itself is beautiful. But it is only effective if you’re aware of your self-worth.  

As we grew older, most of us became experts at the art of showing others compassion. When a friend feels upset about failing a test, we’re there to tell them how smart they are and when they’re feeling insecure about their outfit, we tell them how good they look.  

I’m sure it’s obvious where I’m going with this, in that when similar situations arise for ourselves, how we respond is very different. Suddenly, we’re not smart enough to be sitting in a lecture hall and we wonder why the ogres haven’t requested to have their faces back. 

You’re free to call others talented, smart and beautiful, but if you dare say those things about yourself, it’s suddenly egotistical and morally repugnant.  

There’s a kind of hypocrisy where social media expects you to constantly critique yourself and deflect compliments while simultaneously telling you that you’re “worthy and special in your own way.”  

Why is it so hard to think positively and focus on the good things about ourselves?  

For example, if we get 70 per cent on a midterm, we’re naturally more inclined to dwell on the 30 per cent of questions we got wrong rather than acknowledging the 70 percent we got correct.  

Scientists tell us it’s due to a phenomenon known as the negativity bias, which implies an intrinsic asymmetry between using positive and negative information to navigate our lives. This can easily extend to our perceptions of ourselves, opting to hang on to the negative aspects instead of appreciating the positive.  

Originally, this came from an ancestral survival instinct. In terms of survival, it was far more useful for our ancestors to take heed of negative stimuli rather than focusing on positive ones. It’s important to remind ourselves that what we’re doing here on Earth is no longer just surviving but that we have the luxury and right to live.  

With that said, it ultimately comes down to the fact that we don’t trust ourselves. Even if there’s a moment where you believe yourself to be worthy, societal suggestions or even childhood experiences swiftly replace the feeling with doubt.  

What’s more, society has thoroughly convinced us that we must look for external outlets to fulfil this void of love.  

Whether this includes finding someone else to build you up, competing with others or becoming a perfectionist, these tactics will often fail since they are rooted in self-doubt.  

Instead, we need to re-teach ourselves to look for fulfillment within. It’s not remotely realistic to attempt to block out all the negativity, but I can practically see the eye-roll if I tell you to embrace it.  

Finding a middle ground where you simply

acknowledge your mistakes and alleged shortcomings is a start. It’s difficult to accept the good, bad and ugly parts of yourself, but unless we make an effort to do so, it will prove equally challenging to do the same for others.  

If we daringly flip the saying and start to treat ourselves the way we treat others then perhaps we can finally learn to love ourselves the way we were always meant to.  


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