“what pleased me today in the writings of Hecato; it is these words: “what progress, you ask, have i made? i have begun to be a friend to myself.” (from Seneca, letter VI)
it’s good advice. it’s the kind of thing we should teach our children. intersperse it amongst the reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic. it’s something i wish i’d been taught. it’s a gift we could all give ourselves, but often don’t.
why is it so much easier to “do unto others”?
most of us are decent people. most of us try to be, at least. we’re good friends to the people in our lives. one on one, we’re generally kind. we smile. we hold open doors. we make polite small talk with cashiers and in elevators. we say please and thank you.
we make time for our friends. we help out when needed. we hang out. we celebrate their achievements and are pleased for them when they’re doing well. we’re in their corner when times are tough. we’ve got their back.
too bad we don’t have our own.
we encourage our friends to look after themselves. we tell our friends they deserve to be treated well. we encourage their efforts at self-care, regardless of what that looks like. we cheer them on.
we treat ourselves very differently.
when did we lose the belief that we’re worth it? when does self-love start to fade? is it a single shot or is it death by attrition, the result of repeated blows? bad things happen but we choose to pick up the weapons and continue harming ourselves. we allow the wounds to fester and avoid doing the thing that might let us heal; a twisted punishment for being hurt in the first place.
we tell others that the bad things and the bad times are not their fault but refuse to extend the same grace to ourselves.
it takes baby steps. massive dramatic change is often unsustainable and short-lived. change is hard; even harder when there’s no template to follow, no universals for steps a, b, and c, no “how to be a friend to yourself in three easy lessons”.
it begins by beginning. celebrate the small victories. keep the sotto voce self-mockery at bay.
i got up. i got dressed. i ate breakfast. i’m writing. these are all wins. i deserve to celebrate that fact. it’s a step in the right direction. it’s progress. it’s moving forward and learning to let go of comparisons. other people’s journeys and struggles are not mine; we are at different places on different roads. the most important thing, however, is to start.
i am beginning to be a friend to myself.
photo credit: awareness in action
july 11, 2018