Even if you’re not religious, I’m sure that you recognize the wisdom of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” I tend to have no trouble with this. My friends, many of whom work in social services and small businesses, don’t either. We work long hours for little pay, we reassure other people that their mistakes aren’t a big deal, and we’ll drop everything for a friend if she’s going through a tough time. It’s the reverse Golden Rule that is much more of a challenge: doing unto ourselves as we do unto others.
I can’t count how many times I’ve beaten myself up for little mistakes, or fallen into despair when I hit a snag in my plans. I’ve looked in the mirror and hated what I saw: the dark circles under my eyes, the big zit, or the belly fat that won’t go away. I’ve told myself that I’m incompetent, a screw-up, and that I’ve wasted my potential.
Can you imagine treating a friend that way? Ever? As Duncan Coppock said, “If we spoke to others the way we often speak to ourselves, we’d have no friends!”
When things go awry, we tell our friends, “Everything will turn out fine.” We remind them that they’re resourceful and smart and all-around wonderful people. We see the best in them. However, we find it much harder to show ourselves the same kindness.