10 Mar 2011

Being Kind To Yourself

I've noticed that one of the times I struggle with recovery the most, are the times when I feel like people close to me are angry with me or don't care about me. It makes me feel like giving up or, worse, punishing myself and criticising myself - taking their anger (or the anger I percieve in them) into myself and turning it inwards. There's also perhaps a manipulative element to this - I want to punish myself so that they will see how much they've hurt me.

But I know this is wrong. How I treate myself cannot be based on how other people are acting towards me. I have to build a relationship with myself where I value myself enough that I would continue to look after myself, care for myself and love myself even if noone else in the world cared about me at all. That seems to come naturally to some people, but not to me. I tend to feel guilty when I start feeling pleased with myself or generous or compassionate towards myself. But it shouldn't be that way. I suppose the truth is that I do have flaws - I can be selfish, minipulative, negative and self-indulgent. But I also have virtues - I can be funny, thoughtful, considerate, a good listener. But being kind to yourself cannot be a matter of adding up flaws vs virtues and hoping the balance tips in favour of the virtues. Its too important a thing to leave up to a maths equation and anyway I don't think virtues and flaws can be balanced against each other like that Everyone has the right to love themselves no matter what, because:

1. its in our nature and its necessary for our survival (self-love is what made ancient man bother to get up and get his food instead of letting himself waste away in his cave and in the same way, self love is the only thing that will keep be in recovery and out of hospital in the long run).

2. when we love ourselves we become better people - when I focus and dwell on my flaws, I find myself acting them out and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But when I focus on my virtues and my strengths, I find myself acting them out instead.

So, even though I know I'm not perfect, and irrespective of whether I am actually worthy of love or not, I'm going to keep on trying to love myself.

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