Self-love is overrated 

How many times have you heard that you have to love yourself?

Worse, that you have to learn to love yourself first, as if without this magical substructure, little else is possible.

Some stretch the friendship further, demanding you love yourself unconditionally.

Unconditionally? Is that even possible, desirable?

For example, in the middle of a mess that I’ve made by not acting soon enough, which upends my world but also those who depend on me for whatever reasons (stability, security) – should I love myself? Not necessarily. I can resent myself. I can resent myself and care. I can resent myself and still rebuild.

What about the wo/man who deliberately deliberately setting up a friend? Or the psychopath slowly and deliberately executing a colleague’s fall? Should they love themselves? No. Get thee to a nunnery, they should admonish themselves. Get help. Go.

To those who love themselves I would like to say ‘wow how great’ but I don’t know if it is. I need more information.

I assume that a degree of self like, that includes reproof when needed, allows us to get on with things. But I’ve seen too many people walk away from the ruins without a backward glance, because they’ve convinced themselves it’s okay, they’re okay. And I think this is why self-love is on the nose for me.

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A strong personality is not the same as strength

People often mistake domineering personalities as strong. They can be, but sometimes it’s the opposite. Sometimes frighteningly opposite if doggedness masks an inability to cope with differences.

When someone disagrees with them – it’s a war.

Domineering personalities are not afraid to express a view – that is refreshing. What is less refreshing is to watch them unyieldingly hammer their point till others cave in or shut down.

They are not interesting in listening, nuance or having a discussion. They have a single goal – emerging triumphant at the other end.

It doesn’t matter if they take an opposite view the next day. It’s about winning, not logic.

These personalities play the wo/man and not the ball. Someone who disagrees with them is not just wrong they’re ‘an idiot’ (put in their preferred insult). There’s no give, no concession that someone might have an insight they don’t or even just a different way into the problem.

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Kindness can be brutal

When you’re on the receiving end of kindness — it’s milk — a honeyed sap with associations of mothering & the cosseted dark womb.

But being kind is an altogether different experience.

It’s rising in the dark to run despite rain & icy winds while the world is sleeping.

Being kind can mean:

  • Suppressing the urge to lash out because you feel momentarily better.
  • Letting it go through to the keeper.
  • Putting your needs second, third or taking them off the table, this time.
  • Not adding fuel to the fire though you’re desperate to do so.
  • Refusing to let someone else’s feelings determine yours.
  • Sometimes, not speaking out.
  • Sometimes, not saying what you really think.
  • Appreciating a person is not just their last encounter with you.
  • Remembering the good when you don’t want to.
  • Knowing that when someone strikes at your sense of self it’s because they desperately need to affirm theirs and feeling compassion, rather than anger, for that humanness.
  • Seeing yourself in the above.
  • Admitting that you too can be unkind.

It’s not for the meek. Kindness demands vigilance, acute self-awareness and internal restraint, for which the rewards are not always obvious.

You also need to know the border at which kindness transmutes into self-abuse and not step over it.

That’s the sharper edge of the practice that means you must also know when to: (more…)

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