09 Oct 2012
The Most Important Question of the Day
I have a very important question for you. But first: Have you ever been in love? Or is there someone in your life right now whom you love dearly?
Great. Can you summon the feeling of what that’s like? Feels great, doesn’t it. Most of all, I’d like you to think about the kind of nice things you’d be willing to do for this person right now. Would you cook dinner for her? Take him out to a beautiful park you like? Get her a nice present? You would probably want the best for your beloved.
I’m guessing you would also say nice things to this person. You would be encouraging and kind, because you want to see him flourish. If your beloved slipped, flubbed, floundered, gaffed, or otherwise dropped the ball, you would be forgiving. You would offer feedback that is constructive and compassionate. In all likelihood, you would not come crashing down on him or her like a ton of Nastybricks™.
Now are you ready for the important question? Because the answer to this question is potentially life-altering. So pay close attention:
Do you act towards yourself as if you love yourself?
The answer for most people is a resounding “oops.” For some reason, most people there is some kind of virtue in putting ourselves down. This is how the internal dialog goes:
“Oh my god, that was so stupid. What were you THINKING? Were you thinking? Do you ever think?”
“Naah, I don’t really deserve that. I should just get the cheap version and save some money.”
“A massage/trip/vacation would be really nice right now. But it’s such an indulgence. I just can’t do that for myself.”
And those times when you do something spectacular, when you do succeed, and the world offers its congratulations? This is what you say to the world, on the inside and sometimes even out loud:
“Oh, it’s nothing. Well, I really just got lucky. It’s no big deal. So many other people were involved. I don’t really deserve the credit. Well, you look great, too.”
Ladies and gentlemen — we have a BIG problem. And the problem is that while we’re often very good at treating well other people we love, we don’t extend the same courtesy to ourselves. So may I suggest that starting right now, you treat yourself as if you are your beloved.
In psychology, this is called practicing self-compassion. And it may be the single most transformative thing you can do for your mental and physical well-being.
The practice is simple, as laid out in the new, blissfully short ebook by Kamal Ravikant, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It. Basically, you repeat to yourself throughout the day like a mantra, “I love myself, I love myself, I love myself.” Once more from the top, with feeling:
“I LOVE MYSELF.”
If you do this 500 times a day for a week, your whole world changes. Keep doing it long-term, and I’m almost certain you’ll be airborne.
Kamal also recommends that you spend 5 min each day looking directly into your left eye, saying “I love myself.” Kooky? Sure. Strange? Not any stranger than the thousands of times you’ve put yourself down in this lifetime. Anyway, get over it, because there is something about looking directly into a person’s eye that activates the brain’s love circuitry. Just do it.
Next, you will excise all negative self-talk from your consciousness. There are already enough forces in the world trying to put you down; they do not need your help. Henceforth, only: “I love myself. I’m doing fine. I’m grateful for all these magnificent opportunities.”
Finally, all those times when you could have done something nice for yourself and you didn’t? Well, you now have my blessing to do all those things. In fact, it’s your homework assignment. This does not mean that you go and blow money on a yacht you can’t afford. But it does mean that you spend out more, as Gretchen Rubin calls it in her bestseller The Happiness Project. A nice massage, a piece of sports equipment, tickets to the play or the concert — you deserve it, babe. Go for it (incidentally, money is better spent on experiences versus things).
All of this should help steer you along the way to treating yourself as if you are someone you love. And to paraphrase Dr Seuss, “Today you should love You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who you should love more than You.” I look forward to hearing about the rewards of this journey.
Dr Ali Binazir