Have you ever considered how the ways you treat yourself and others are surprisingly similar?
As far back as the Bible, it has been espoused that we should treat others as we would want to be treated.
But this, perhaps, looks only at the inter-relationship between people.
What about the intra — the importance of how you want to treat yourself?
Consider treating yourself as you would treat others.
You would be excused right now if you had an image of intersecting arrows going in a multitude of different directions. Me to her, her to me, me to me.
What we are bringing attention to is the interrelation between our interactions with our self and our interactions with others.
Commonly, we find a pattern emerging.
How people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves.
There are two important things to note here:
- If we can improve the quality of our relationship with ourselves, we can improve the quality of our relationship with others.
- How others treat us is not always a reflection of us.
Given people are commonly more motivated by how others perceive them. Rather than by cultivating qualities of self-compassion and kindness towards the self. We can look to the well-being of our relationships as an indicator of our own well-being.
Let’s look at three simple ways to attend to this in a way that will benefit both the self and our relationships with others.
Listen to what ‘that’ voice is saying
Tap into your internal dialogue — what is the quality of the voice?
Is it punitive? Harsh? Unforgiving?
Or do you offer yourself compassion, forgiveness and kindness?
Knowing the baseline of your emotional tone will help you understand how far you need to shift the needle. It may also give you a good indication of how you interact with others (knowingly or not.)
Name that voice and the story it is telling you
For example, if Jane finds she is constantly let down by people around her, she may notice that the recurring story in her mind is ‘not good enough’.
She can notice the frequency of how often this is popping up and ask the question, “is this accurate or am I projecting rigid expectations that I hold myself to, onto others?”
By noticing this pattern and naming the story, she can achieve some distance and space from the automatic reaction of disappointment, frustration and anger. By pausing and labeling, she has the opportunity to intersect the automatic judgment and question whether it is valid and compassionate and aligned with the friend, acquaintance, work colleague, and importantly, individual she wants to be.
Love and kindness meditations offer the simple practice of directing well wishes towards self and other people. They are simple, short and easy based on the repetition of wishes of compassion.
This does far more than give you a momentary boost of feeling good. The research has shown that it improves your ability to access positive emotion at a higher frequency and also provides an increased sense of purpose. Connection to others and even reduces illness —I’ll take that over a Prozac anyway! Various versions of love and kindness meditation can be found all over the Internet.
By building greater awareness, you can then work on developing compassion, love and kindness that radiates inwards. From within, you can find happiness and then radiate it around and light up the world.
For more guidance and support on how to enhance your wellbeing, please head over to The Whole Being Group website.
A compassionate and professional psychologist with over 13 years’ experience. Supported clients within corporate and private sectors, working with both adolescents and adults.