Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s pretty simple. Don’t be mean to other people, lest they be mean to you. Call it instant karma, lovingkindness, whatever, pretty much every religion and ethical philosophy has a cognate. Don’t do something you wouldn’t want someone else to do to you.
For some reason, the focus is always on the doing unto others– what about you? Do you do unto yourself as you would do unto others? Or are you mean to yourself, unkind, ungenerous? So turn it around, and try the Golden Rule in reverse– do unto yourself as would do unto others. It becomes a very different proposition, doesn’t it?
The great gurus and buddhas and teachers all tell us that before we can love the whole world, we must love ourselves. That’s hard. We all have self-doubt, self-hatred, self-criticism. We don’t treat ourselves as we would treat our best friend, our most beloved, our children. We don’t forgive our own thoughtlessness and flakiness, our self-absorption during good times and bad. We don’t encourage ourselves when embarking on new adventures. We don’t try to make our criticism constructive, and we don’t close our lips on words that might hurt, regardless of their intent. Instead, we’re just plain mean– we interrupt ourselves mid-thought, put down our hopes and dreams. We tell ourselves we look fat, and ugly, and don’t look for the things that make us attractive to the people who love us. We don’t listen to our explanations when we discover we’ve been behaving badly– we are unwilling to try to understand, and we never forgive. We don’t love ourselves. And while we wouldn’t put up with someone treating our friend, our child, our beloved this way, somehow it’s still acceptable to turn it inward.
“But they don’t know who I really am! I just hide it really well.” My friend– you are not an Oscar-caliber actor, or you’d have a contract by now. Your friends see and know your flaws, and they love you in spite of them, because of them, any way around them. Why do you distrust your friends’ opinions about your worthiness, when you rely on them for everything else? You seek and cherish their advice on doctors, on recipes, on what to do when money’s tight. Why, now, do you do them the disservice of saying they are wrong to believe you are worthy of love?
Try looking at yourself as you would look at your friend, especially if someone else were to attack your friend’s character. How would you respond, but to leap to her defense? Wouldn’t you lay down your heart to help your beloved? Wouldn’t you throw yourself in front of a bus to save your child?
Why should you do any less for you, your own tender, precious self?