This year, I resolve to do unto myself what I would have myself do unto others. Wait… what?
I can explain.
“Goodbye, decade of the Oughts.” A friend posted this on facebook. I’d never associated the word aught with ought. According to the dictionary, ought can mean zero too. But I didn’t know this. I was a little melancholy (as I tend to be when my kids are gone) and we’ll just say it took much less time to think of the things I ought to have done than it did for me to chew myself out for not doing them.
I decided to ring in the new year alone, so as to avoid inflicting my grumpiness on anyone else. A couple of friends rescued me though, I ended up having a good time. I also ended up with a new resolution.
Years ago I’d resolved to do unto others as they would have me do unto them… to try to anticipate how a person actually wants to be treated and behave accordingly. I don’t think that worked out very well, but I learned from it. I think I did learn to have more compassion and empathy. I also learned that I’m not very good at reading minds. And I learned that some people can always point out what you’ve done wrong: the harder you try to please them, the more critical and even downright cruel they become.
I was thinking about that as I washed my face. At least I don’t have to start another year with someone who treats me like that… Then, I looked into the mirror to apply my nightly benzoyl peroxide. Zits. Bump on the nose. Weird teeth. Wrinkle-that’s visible-even-with-my-glasses-off. Nice.
Actually I didn’t say those words in my mind because that’s not how I think when I’m talking to myself. It’s more of a feeling thing; I only use words to talk to others. God understands this about me, so when these words came into my mind I knew they weren’t mine: “Love thy neighbor as thyself, Velda. That means you’ve got to love yourself, too.”
Then I realized that if I treated others the way I treat myself, I’d be at least to some extent the same sort of critical jerk I don’t want to be around. And no matter what, I am stuck with me. So my goal this year is to learn to be kinder to myself. More gentle, more understanding. More compassionate, forgiving, and encouraging.
When a friend is trying to get healthy, I try to work out with her, and I watch for subtle changes and tell her how great she looks. When my kids are struggling with their homework, I assure them that they CAN work it out and encourage them to take a step back and try to think of it another way. When I walk into a friend’s home, do you think I even notice any untidiness (read.. the fact that she actually lives there) before she points it out? Or if it’s so messy I do notice do I try to help her out? If my friend got four As and a B+ in one heavily-loaded semester, I’d be cheering for her, not chiding her lack of perfection.
I will keep trying to be kind to others, but I think it’s about time I became a better friend to me, too. So that’s my resolution, and I’m excited to see how it will go. Wish me luck… I am 🙂