Love ThySelf

The news has been chock full o’ goodies lately. It is just another day for suicide-murder suicide-more suicide and more murder suicide. Now, one of the things said about suicide is that it is a selfish act. The people who commit suicide were only thinking of themselves and not about the people around them. On the contrary, people intending and completing suicides were thinking about people around them. In fact, they allowed the people around them to have an extraordinary amount of influence in addition to what they perceive people were thinking about them.

In the past, it was my responsibility to anticipate whether someone might be planning on suicide or murder. Luckily, I had never encountered anyone who was homicidal but every other person had suicidal thoughts and a few had real plans and a select few attempted. Wouldn’t you like to have had my job! So, what exactly do the people with self-harm thoughts have in common-they do not love themselves enough.  Flashback moment: In college, one of my psychology major smart as a whip classmate hung himself in the dorms. Why? He was thinking about how someone else affected his life. He had potential and a bright future ahead. The irony of a psych major with so many problems that he resorted to suicide. So there we were, a bunch of psych students led by our practising psychologist teacher scratching our heads saying “why?”

It has taken a few years to fully understand what it means to not love yourself enough to end ones life. Even though I get it, I still do not get it. What I do get is that life can be very overwhelming to the point of losing focus and becoming very myopic. This generation has become a generation that has lost their way, loss their identity, loss their meaning and is confused. This generation is heavily dependent on other’s opinions for validation. With social networks and more access to world communication, everyone’s identity is heavily dependent on a ‘dude’ who lives across the country that s/he has never met. There is a trend of young kids posting videos on Youtube asking strangers about their opinions of their looks. There are too many kids  and adults killing themselves based on someone else’s opinions that they have internalized.  Very rarely do middle-aged and older people kill themselves because of ‘peer pressure.’ By that age, they don’t give a f*** (for emphasis) what other’s think. By then, they have realized how much you spent your life caring about s*** and is now trying to make the most of the small overlooked blessings God granted each morning they opened their eyes.

I use to tell my depressed clients that they needed to be selfish. What I meant by being selfish is taking the time to look at yourself, examine yourself, address the problems with yourself, accept imperfections in yourself, attempt to make repairs one at a time to yourself, come up with various solutions, then go out live life, make choices, and enjoy yourself.  All of this was a step process. The usual resistance to all of this were clients who would remind me what so and so thought or might have thought or could think this… and then it all started the two steps backward and one step forward dance. One of the major reminders to clients when they did something they did not think they could do was “Did it kill you?” “No” “Did the world come to an end?” “No” “So, then tell me exactly what were you afraid of?” The response would usually be a smile. My usual recommendation “to continue.”

The world mistakenly believes that we live in a selfish and somewhat narcissistic environment. However, I challenge that to say  people do not love themselves enough and so they use things to mask that distress. To love one’s self is not an inherent nature. There was no coding on the X chromosome.  Loving one’s self is a daily practice, a daily endeavour or a daily struggle. Life can be quite shitty and unpredictable and disappointing and in those instances individuals internalize things so personally and become susceptible to what you think the world perceives of you. You become susceptible to what one silly person says and there goes your life-downhill to the point of suicide or at least a thought.

Teenagers and fragile personalities (each person is there at some point) need to understand that there is not one human being who has everything together all the time. Hint: celebrities, politicians and even the world of reality tv is showing the perpetual drama in an average person’s life. Yet despite the “all have sinned…” fact, people still find the time to be talked into hating themselves so much they want it all to end and soon. So, the issue is if we love our neighbours as we (supposedly) love ourselves, then you can understand why the world is in such dire straits.


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