Be Gentle With Yourself

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How can you expect to be gentle with the people you care about if you aren’t gentle with yourself? Whether or not you want to admit it you’re a narcissist. Don’t be turned off by that statement. As much as most of us like to characterize narcissism as a mental disturbance affecting a very thin slice of the population, from the psychoanalytic point of view narcissism is a fundamental human life orientation common to pretty much all of us, only sparing those exceptional individuals who have reached a state of enlightenment.

At its essence the narcissistic attitude presupposes that everything and everyone revolves around you. Just like how our ancestors found it utterly unimaginable that the earth could revolve around the sun, taking it for granted that the sun revolved around them, in our concrete environments and daily interactions we take it for granted that we’re the central protagonists of our unfolding life stories, that it’s everyone else playing supporting roles. Of course they believe the same thing, casting us in the supporting roles of their own unfolding life stories.

In the throes of the narcissistic attitude we forget that we’re human beings too, that there’s nothing we can say or do to others that we can’t say or do to ourselves. It’s almost like we become invisible to ourselves as human beings, instead believing we’re gods simply utilizing the human encasing to get our agendas met. We look outwards, considering how our thoughts, words, and actions will affect the external environment, rarely considering the effect these thoughts, words, and actions will have upon our own psyches.

The paradox is that consciously deciding you’re going to be gentle with yourself, that you’re going to be kind to yourself, that you’re only going to send loving thoughts, loving words, and loving actions to yourself, is not narcissistic but rather the first step towards enlightenment. Taking a gentle, loving attitude towards yourself recognizes that you are a human being and that how you treat yourself matters.