Yesterday we had a lesson in church about “Love thy neighbor, as thyself.” Most of the discussion was about how we could serve and love our neighbors more, but my mind was fixated on the last two words: “as thyself.”
I remember as a teenager thinking, “so if I don’t love myself, then it’s okay to not love my neighbor.” And I didn’t love me much. In fact, I was harder on myself than I was on other people. Now I think I love and appreciate me, but I am still way too hard on myself.
I spent Saturday beating myself over the fact that everyone in my yoga class could do a headstand except ME. My self talk went something like this: “You were the youngest in the class. I can’t believe all these old ladies could do headstands and you couldn’t. You are so out of shape.”
I spent Sunday beating myself up about a talk I gave in church. “Why did I say that? Why didn’t I say that? Why do I always get emotional? Did I make any sense?”
And I spent this morning beating myself about negative feelings I am having towards someone. “Why can’t you get over this? You are a mature adult. This is not a big deal. Grow up.”
During my church class, I began to wonder if I were kinder and gentler with myself would I be kinder and gentler with other people? I realized that I needed to exercise more compassion and love and forgiveness for myself first. I needed to give myself the benefit of the doubt just like I would for other people. (I never would pick apart someone’s talk like I did my own.) And once I was softer and gentler with myself the whole ‘love thy neighbor thing’ would just be a natural extension of a self love.
So when my negative self talk started to creep up in yoga again this morning I said to myself, “You are here. You are doing your best. You are making progress.” At the end of class, I meditated about forgiveness and letting go of grudges.
Now the trick is to remember the insight I had yesterday as I listened to the Spirit. (And not beat myself up about yelling at my kids today…)