It’s challenging to show care when we feel extremely disappointed with ourselves, or others. Some can care for others far better than they care for themselves. I have even seen men care for other family members better than their own.
The Buddhist use a word Metta.
’The good symbol for Metta (loving-kindness) is the mother cradling her baby to sleep. The baby cradled to sleep will be the result. I can still remember that it was a good feeling when I was cradled to sleep by my mother. There is also a lot of joy when one is unselfishly caring for a friend. Such is loving-kindness and its results.
In the texts, metta is characterised by promoting the aspect of welfare. Amity, goodwill, friendliness and loving-kindness are some of the words used to describe this mental state. There is no better way to know it than to study it as it occurs in one’s own mind and others’. It is a totally unselfish and pure state of mind that brings profit to oneself and others, now and hereafter.
The cultivation of this state of mind is called bhavana – normally translated as meditation. When we cultivate it, it becomes strong, powerful and useful. It brings us abundant, deep and intense peace and happiness.
This cultivation must include ourselves too. If we beat ourselves up about all our imperfections our care becomes compromised.
This author suffered terribly but I highly recommend this book and she highlights my point about aspects of ourselves, the things we struggle to accept.
’I doubt that anyone reveals the whole truth about oneself, even in confession. There are things in everyone’s life that are known only to oneself and our almighty Father God.’
THE SECRET HOLOCAUST DIARIES by NONNA BANNISTER
The truth is until we accept fully all of ourselves, only then can we start to understand love. It’s a difficult journey, many avoid it their whole life. Some blocking it out with substance abuse, sex addiction, work alcoholics…etc.
The truth is we need to understand and care for ourselves to be truly a blessing to others. I know, I have dealt with bipolar disorder all my life and not well like I do these days.
I am not implying that be flippant about our bad behaviour or disregard our actions. I am encouraging us to face our dark side and embrace all of ourselves to empower real change. You can not beat yourself up over every bad thought, we can accept it as where we are at and just keep moving. The acceptance, from my experience, changes everything. It allows the opportunity to use our much-needed energy in growing not circling around in shame and hopelessness.
The mind is a habit-forming thing and loves to remember negative things. That’s ok, because it’s just thoughts and we can let them go at any time and not entertain them. Let them come and go, no fighting with ourselves, to hard and tiring.
‘One has do learn to live with oneself,
to be a friend with oneself,
to be at peace with oneself,
to somehow learn to be happy with oneself, because where you go, you take you with you.’
— Ajahn Brahmavamso