In order to build a strong foundation for relationship, you must first investigate your relationship with yourself. If you are unkind to yourself, you will ultimately be unkind to anyone who forms a partnership with you. When you connect with another, he or she becomes an extension of you. Ultimately, you will pick on that person in the same manner that you pick on yourself. At first, you may only be critical of him or her in your thoughts. But soon, thoughts translate into attitudes, and attitudes dictate actions. Think back to disagreements you’ve had with others in your life. Haven’t the worst fights or meanest arguments happened with those you love?
If after reading this, you only had one benefit—being kind to yourself—we would consider it an overwhelming success.
That is because Heaven on Earth begins with you. If you are in turmoil inside, there will be no peace in your relationship.
In order to let go of repetitive, negative thoughts about yourself, it’s always a good idea to become aware of your inner commentary without judging what you discover. As you bring awareness to all that you say to yourself about yourself in the privacy of your thoughts, you will notice that your thoughts aren’t static. In other words, in certain types of situations, your thoughts will mechanically take a negative bent and during other situations, they won’t. If you start with the supposition that your thoughts are always negative or self-deprecating, then you won’t notice the nuances of your inner life and you won’t register the times when you are already being kind to yourself.
We invite you to listen in on a conversation we had with our friend and client, Stefanie, in a garden one sunny, breezy morning. It was a lovely spring day, the Monday following one of our weekend seminars.
KINDNESS BEGINS WITH YOU
Stefanie is a beautiful middle-aged woman with lustrous wavy white and grey hair that settles gently on her shoulders. As we began, she was quick to lay out what she thought was her problem.
“I realize that I hold grudges against people,” she said with a slightly distasteful look on her face. Holding grudges seemed to leave a bad taste in her mouth.
“I find it hard to forgive other people,” she went on, “if they’ve been unkind to me or if they’ve done something that I don’t like.”
“Well, it starts with you,” Ariel said.
For a moment, Stefanie looked a little thrown by Ariel’s comment. She seemed surprised.Perhaps she expected us to judge her for holding grudges as much as she judged herself. This wasn’t the tack she expected either of us to take.
“I’d be willing to bet that you have a hard time forgiving yourself if you do the littlest thing that you think is either not nice or inappropriate,” suggested Shya. “You judge yourself if you do something that you think isn’t good enough, or if you make a ‘mistake.’”
Stefanie laughed in recognition as the sun fell on her hair, lighting it up like a halo. “Oh yes,” she admitted, “I’m very harsh with myself, even if I stumble on a stairway.”
As Stefanie mentioned stumbling, it triggered a memory of the first time we met her, a number of years ago, at one of our Hamburg workshops. In the building where we rented space, the entrances to the rooms were elevated by a few inches and Shya stumbled on one of them. Witnessing this, Stefanie had blurted out, “You can’t be that enlightened. You tripped!”
“Oh God,” Stefanie exclaimed, simultaneously laughing and wincing as she recalled the incident, too. Her comment still embarrassed her all of these years later.
“Stefanie, don’t feel badly about it,” said Ariel. “That isn’t an example of you being unkind or harsh to Shya. It’s really an example of how you talk to yourself.”
“Yes,” Shya continued, “in that moment, you simply treated me the way you treat yourself.”
“That’s true,” Stefanie said, her face softening. “I would have said that to myself, at least in my mind.”
“No,” Ariel said, “you would have been much harsher if you were talking to yourself.”
“Yes,” Stefanie agreed, “I would have called myself an idiot or something worse.”
“Okay,” Shya said, “just notice all the times you call yourself an ‘idiot’ and don’t make yourself wrong for it. Simply notice the mechanical nature of picking on yourself and see if you can notice it without making yourself wrong, because you can’t help but pick on yourself when you do. If you see it and don’t judge it as good or bad or right or wrong, that’s enough for it to complete itself in an instant,” he said, snapping his fingers. “It doesn’t take time. It happens in an instant. And then you get better at it. By the way, this is the Third Principle of Instantaneous Transformation.”
Stefanie had been listening to him with rapt attention, her mouth slightly open. “That’s wonderful,” she said, clearly delighted by the possibility, “because I often catch myself being harsh with myself and then I say, ‘You shouldn’t be so harsh with yourself!’” She was laughing now.