When you are kind to yourself, you become a better person. How can this be so? Doesn’t almost everyone tell you that if you do something you like, or take time for yourself, or say “No” to someone else’s demands that you are being selfish? Being selfish is considered bad and unkind to others, right?
The difference is that being kind to yourself is being selfish, but selfish with wisdom. When you are kind to yourself, you think things through first. You don’t let yourself get conned into doing something bad just because others are doing it: you reason things out first with yourself in mind. My friends are going to someone’s car and joy-ride it and they want me to do it with them, Why not? After all, I’m feeling bad and lonely and sad, and doing something daring (or dangerous or “special” with my friends ought to make me feel better, right?
If you are not paying kind attention to yourself, you might think, “Sure, why not? The adults (or rich people or the people who live in the classy neighborhoods or someone I just don’t like right now) haven’t giving me what I want, so sure, it’s right that I should take it from them. It would make me feel better now, so, sure, I’ll do it.”
The trouble is, that is not being kind to yourself at all. Because you decide to do something to hurt someone else, you are setting yourself up for shame at least and harm at worst. To do something just because others are doing it means that you are not being kind to yourself: you haven’t listened to you! You haven’t listened to yourself long enough to know that you are hurting, that you do feel lonely and unhappy. If you had been kind to yourself and listened, you would deal with the sadness and loneliness first, instead of doing something stupid right now.
Sometimes you are mad at someone else but you don’t really know why. You say you someone that you hate at him or her, though really you are angry about something that person did or how you felt when he or she did it. Sometimes you tell your mother “I hate you!” when really what my mean inside is, “I’m scared and unhappy and frustrated and I don’t think you’re listening to me because you aren’t making this situation better, you’re making it worse.” Sometimes what you really mean is, “Seeing you makes me realize I forgot to do what I promised, and that makes me feel bad but I don’t want to own up to having to do it wrong. So, I blame you for not being perfect because I don’t think I’ll ever be even nearly perfect, ever.”
Sometimes you are angry because you hate being reminded of what you haven’t done, and sometimes you are angry because of something that you have done but you don’t want to feel how heavy your mistake or harm really is. If you blame someone else for getting in the way because you knocked him over; if you call someone else bad for showing how you did something wrong or even that you did not do something good enough; if you hate someone for being a good person because you are sure you will never be that good and so you feel worthless when you are around him or her: then in all of those cases you are angry, not because of what they did or what they are but because you are not being honest with yourself about what you’re really afraid of feeling. If you’re afraid of someone, you can get angry, you can hate them, you can put them down so you rise up a little bit. But, really, you’re not being honest with yourself about how you really feel.
There is an old saying: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” This can mean a lot of things: if someone hits you, hitting them back doesn’t make you better, or what he did better, or anything else better. Yes, he or she was likely wrong to hit you in the first place, though maybe not: if you called him or her a bad name or knocked into him “accidentally on purpose” you are in the wrong. So, again, hour hurting him didn’t make his hurting you good: it made everything worse.
You see: giving someone back his bad feeling, harming him or her because you felt she harmed you or, worse yet, hurting other people because you’re in pain from something inside of you, helps nothing. It doesn’t help your pain to hurt someone else: in fact, not only will you feel worse you will likely get in trouble and that will make you hurt even more. Striking out at someone doesn’t do anything for the real problem, which is that you are feeling frustrated, angry, scared, guilty, ashamed or alone.
When you are frustrated, the thing to do is to figure out what the problem is and maybe ask for help so you can solve it. If you’re angry, you need to know why, The sad thing is that you’re probably angry because someone hurt you, right? Once you know why you are angry, though, you can work to fix it. But if you’ve pushed your anger out onto someone else, you’ve made the anger go away from you, now you can’t figure out why you’re angry or what made you mad, so you can never fix anything. If you’re scared, sometimes there are very, very good reasons, and hitting someone else can’t help any of those. When you’re guilty or ashamed, it’s because you want to remember that you did something that wasn’t the best you could do. And if you feel alone, hitting people will make them go further and further away from you.
Someone once said, “A man (or woman) shows his character by what he does when no one’s looking.” This can mean a lot of things: are you the kind of person that needs to be reminded and reminded, with someone always keeping you in their view? Do you need that so that you don’t distract yourself and do something that you think you’d like, rather than what you need to do right now? And especially if you’ve promised someone you would do it, do you keep to your promise? Keeping your promises shows character.
Are you the kind of person who will do what he wants when he wants to do it unless there is someone watching over you so that you keep doing the things you need to do now? Do you get tired and bored easily, are you restless and you can’t sit still unless there is someone there to make sure you do? IF you’re bored and restless, it might be because you haven’t learned how to use your time well. You use your time well when you arrange it: make sure you do the important things first, especially things you’ve promised, and then take a break. After the break, come back and do something that would help you or someone else. Playing around is what you do after you’ve done your work: it’s your reward. Playing first and then rushing after means you don’t respect your time or anyone else’s either. Respecting Time, yours and everyone else’s, is also a sign of character.
Are you even the kind of person who thinks, “I can do this: no one’s looking!” You’re forgetting the most important thing< You are always looking at what you are doing! You will always know what you did, for your whole life. You can never escape yourself. Even if you do something foolish and take something that controls you, you are still doing the action: you chose to give up your control. This means that what you have done will always stay with you. It takes character to realize that you will always know what you have done.
You are always in charge of your character: no one else can do it as well as you can.