“Love your neighbour as you love yourself”
I am fairly confident that most of us make some effort, even go beyond our normal limits, to implement the first half of this Second Great Law of Jesus. It’s on the second half that we often fall short, or almost neglect altogether.
This prolonged period of social distancing and self-isolation has likely exacerbated that, even if we are mainly cooped up at home with family or sustaining in person contact with a few friends who are “in our bubble”. Yet, without part two of the law, part one has less impact and effect.
So, unless you happen to be an unrepentant, unrelenting narcissist, the opposite is likely closer to the truth. We give, give, and give of ourselves to others and are underachieve in the area of self-love, self-compassion.
Self-compassion, however, has proven to be an effective and beneficial antidote to anxiety, depression, and stress. Self-compassion is the rather simple practice of treating ourselves with the same care, respect, kindness, support, and love we offer to others. But hey, with most of us having a lot of “spare” time during this Covid-19 crisis, surely we can find some minutes, even hours, to care for and love ourselves.
Self-compassion enables us to focus on positives instead of negatives. So, yes, we may be feeling down or anxious or under stress. But … we a part of humankind in common and all people experience these feelings and pressures from time to time. So, recognize and name the emotions you are experiencing and then think of something positive you can do in response. For example, going for a fresh air break or walk instead of grabbing up a second Hagen-Daas* ice cream bar. Or, have a conversation with yourself in the manner in which you might have a similar conversation with a friend or family member who is feeling stressed, or anxious, or down. It may also be a good time to just call up a friend or put up a post on social media.
When we feel threatened, we humans have a tendency to zero in on the negative as a means of survival. Not a good strategy. By focusing on positive images, memories, experiences, view of ourselves we will actually feel safer, less fearful, more hopeful, even optimistic. In difficult or stressful times calling up and listening to a voice within ourselves that is encouraging, kind, and warm will filter through our being in ways that promote health for us in body, mind, and spirit.
I suspect most of us are victimized and belittled more by our own inner self-critic than by any critique or negative reaction from others around us. Better we learn to tone down and hush that inner critic and touch base with and rouse up our inner cheerleader instead. And yes, we all have one of those within us too.