Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart


the hardest kind of kindness

buddhist sayingI write frequently about being kind to our own flawed and fallible selves. Because I see so many people talking to and about themselves in ways they wouldn’t address horrible strangers.

I hear dear friends talk about themselves as failures, citing their inability to walk serenely through their overwhelming lives. Colleagues badmouth their work; acquaintances are dismissive of their considerable accomplishments. Strangers share stories of how they are horrible people (they aren’t).

Self-love, people. A little self-love, please.

Thus the lesson for today, from my dearly beloved Pema Chödrön, she who always makes me feel better — and more like doing better. (It’s hard to feel inspired when you hurt.) She doesn’t ever hurt, unlike too many current religious  elders. Her religion — like the Dalai Lama’s — is kindness. To all of us, including her own wonderful self. And mine.

dalai lama laughing

via Google

I guarantee you that Pema Chödrön also struggles with self-abnegation. Don’t we all? Probably even the Dalai Lama — although I confess I can’t imagine!

Kindness to ourselves is soooo much harder than being kind to people we love. Or being kind to strangers. I can summon great sympathy — even mercy — for people who do cruel things, when I think about their contexts. But all I have to do is drop something and words like ‘idiot!’ come out of my mouth.

I don’t know how to change that for us. I do it, you do it, she and he and they ALL do it. It’s the way of human beings, if they’re not insufferably arrogant. We are hardest on ourselves — we are our own difficult, too-often-unloveable friends. And the people who appear so very confident, who think they never err? I can’t help but remember the saying behind every superior attitude is an inferiority complex.  It’s true far more often than not.

via Google

via Google

What I can assure each of us — you, me, each tentative, shrinking heart — is that we have our own inimitable gifts. Gifts no one else can offer. Unique presents for the world around us. And those gifts deserve appreciation, and love. Our own, first of all.  Because if I can’t love me — forgiving my own faults & flaws — how can I love you? Really love you — in your occasionally horrible, frustrating and challenging, disappointment to me?  To love ourselves, we only have to offer up our gifts, from our quaking, unbelieving hearts. Others will show us how valuable those gifts are. But first  — and hardest of all — we have to believe they exist, and that they deserve appreciation. Let’s start there.



  • Misha Norton

    Thanking you for the LOVE, my friend…

    • Britton Gildersleeve

      Thank you, Misha. :)

Previous Posts

contrasts and contradictions (or not...)
See the snow outside? It's inches -- nothing for Boston (they should be so lucky!), but a big deal for Oklahoma. And more to come, the weather folks predict.  A cardinal is on one feeder, a vivid splash of colou

posted 11:42:43am Feb. 28, 2015 | read full post »

a long long time ago, or, updating our moral software
  This used to be the way America looked at women voting. And to be honest, some of these jokes are still around. But for the vast majority of Americans, we accept that women have the right to vote. Even though it's not in the original Constitution. That's an important 'even though,' sin

posted 10:52:31pm Feb. 26, 2015 | read full post »

the vulnerability of grace
This is a post about sharing. About a man who has inspired me for a long time, and his impending loss. It's about intelligence, wit, and vulnerability. And the irreplaceable magic of those braided qualities

posted 4:25:29pm Feb. 23, 2015 | read full post »

lists, writing, and cleaning the mind's house
  Ever since I was a little girl, I've visualised my mind as an old house. And lately it seems more like a house that needs a LOT of TLC -- re: it's  kind of a mess. So when the facilitator at the

posted 3:50:10pm Feb. 21, 2015 | read full post »

oh RATS, or, rescue and repatriation and compassion
This is Rattus norvegicus, the common brown rat. It's the same rat many lab rats are bred from, and it's SMART. Also, not so nice to have as a wild resident. As in: living in your laundry room. Even if the laundry room is only an occasional outing (inning?) from the garage, where it's set up house.

posted 6:43:38pm Feb. 19, 2015 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.