We hear about the golden rule.
We’ve all heard this.
“Treat others the way that you would like to be treated.”
And this can be kind of a remedy against selfishness.
But it seems like it can also be taken in the other direction, an inverse of the golden rule: “Treat yourself the way you would like others to be treated.” How many times do we see people that are very considerate towards other people and don’t show the same consideration to themselves? And I see this as kind of an inverse of the- it’s the same rule.
It’s another way.
It is kind of breaking this golden rule in another way, that it’s like treating yourself as somehow special and following different rules than others.
This seems to be just at the heart of what ego is about: you are a special entity.
You’re not like all those other humans that are walking around.
You have your own special qualities that are unique, and so the way that you should be treated is different from the way that all those others should be treated.
And no, that’s ego right there, isn’t it? And you can imagine that- it’s easy to imagine that in the selfish sense of, you know, “I deserve all the good things.
I deserve to have all the money and attention and power that I want, because I’m special, and I deserve it.
And those other people, ah, you know they’re not as good as me, so they don’t- don’t worry about them.”
So it’s easy to look at it from that angle.
But it seems like it’s also an expression of this ego, this sense that “I’m special”, it also can be applied in the opposite direction: thinking that “I don’t deserve the same kind of treatment I give others.” And this is- maybe it’s not usually thought of in so direct a way.
It’s just that the way that we commonly think about it doesn’t include ourselves.
Like we have an idea about how we should treat somebody.
“Oh, I would never do that to that person.
I would never say such a thing.
I wouldn’t even think such a thing about that person, such a bad thing.
I wouldn’t break a promise to that person.” But then to ourselves, sometimes we can think, oh, you know, “It would be selfish to you know worry too much about myself.” That “I don’t want to be egotistical, so I’m not going to treat myself with such kindness.” And it gets into this trap of just not acknowledging ourselves as being a person in the same way.
Now, for people that are gone too far on the selfish side of just wanting to grab everything for themselves, you can see how this could become this kind of remedy, that “Oh, OK, think less about yourself, because you want to be kind to other people.
It’s not all about you.
So care more about other people and care less about yourself.” Natural lesson, but it can be taken too far, to the point where we think that we don’t deserve what other people deserve.
It seems to me like it should be fundamental, it should be absolute, that anything that other people deserve, we also deserve.
And that can go both ways, in terms of treating other people better, caring about them and not just ourselves, but it also means caring about ourselves and not just others.
I find this to be a very useful thought experiment, to imagine if I was another person how would I treat myself? Imagine that I was my friend.
How would I treat myself.
Imagine I wasn’t myself, but somebody else.
Would the way that I’m treating myself be acceptable? Sometimes it seems like we still believe that we play by different rules.
We still believe that we don’t need to treat ourselves the same way as others, both in the sense of trying to grab more for ourselves than is our fair share, but also it can be giving ourselves less than is our fair share, less than is our due.
So imagine that you yourself are your own friend.
What would you do differently?
#goldenrule #altruism #beyourownfriend