Silver Rule: Do for yourself what you would like others to do for you.
We cannot give what we have not received. It’s impossible to give something you don’t have.
No matter how much we try, if we are not filled up with love and appreciation, with joy, we can’t share it with others.
The little child in each of us — the one that feels separate, alone and therefore unconnected — needs to know, feel and be touched by love over and over.
This child needs our love. It is within us to give ourselves the love that is so needed right within our own hearts. This is the only way we can truly give to others!
How often we look to others for what we don’t give to ourselves. We all really want appreciation, respect and love, and aren’t aware how little we give these life enhancing gifts to ourselves.
We all need appreciation, and won’t do well without it. If we don’t receive these nurturing qualities we will eventually sabotage ourselves in some way.
If we don’t give it freely to ourselves we begin seeking it in the wrong places - from others. It becomes a demanding, or begging quality in us. And others are offended by it.
Jesus has said that those who have, more will be given, and those who have not, even that which they have will be taken from them. Matt 13:12
Understanding the profound truth of this universal principle, I began treating myself differently.
Years ago I did all those exercises I learned from Louise Hay. Holding a mirror up to your face, looking at yourself in the eye and speaking words of love and kindness to yourself.
Then I learned the practice of lovingkindess, metta in Buddhist language. It is the art of extending love to everyone, and it begins with oneself!
We must begin somewhere if we are to be happy and allow the overflow of this happiness to pour into the lives of others!
So how are you treating yourself? How much compassion do give yourself?
What is your inner conversation?
Is it shaming and blaming? If so, please stop and feel how much pain you cause yourself. It hurts!
Charity (love) begins at home.
I suggest you write down the words you have always yearned to hear from another, the sweetest most wonderful words, and then say them to yourself! And not just once. Let them become a mantra inside yourself.
Sound outrageous? Or think you might get a little too swell headed?
I call it “good parenting.”
Bronze Rule: Don’t do for others what they are unwilling to do for themselves.
Note this says unwilling, not unable.
There is a world of difference between being unwilling and unable. It is so important to help those who are, in this moment, not able to help themselves. These dear souls are not unwilling, but for the moment they just don’t have the resources at their disposal.
It is vital for us to be generous!
Giving in these circumstances is a true blessing!
There is compassion, and there is, to quote Pema Chodren, idiot compassion. This occurs when the gift we give does not strengthen, but weakens. It erodes the recipient’s sense of dignity and worth.
Underlying our actions resides our seeing. How are we seeing the other? Is this person the essence of the Christ nature, or the Buddha?
Or do we see the other as weak and always needing support, because they are unwilling to do for themselves what is possible for them to do. They just won’t summon up the time, the energy or the discipline and rely on others to bail them out of their troubles — over and over, repeatedly.
If they are unable, it’s a very different story. Perhaps their body or their frame of mind simply cannot help themselves, and they truly need help. It is wise to open our hearts and give.
We’ll know the difference because these souls will already be helping themselves in the ways they can.
But if we undermine their inner strength we inadvertently support their weakness.
It takes discernment, and prayer, to discover when a gift is a real gift, and when it supports weakness.
I believe it helps when we are willing, day after day, to know and remember that each being is created from the very essence of divinity. Each being is filled with beauty, truth and goodness, regardless of how they are choosing to use their gift of life.
Sometimes we so want the best for another that we mistake our desire to be comfortable for what is truly helpful.
So, if it is helpful, you may use these guidelines. If not, you could put them on a shelf somewhere. They may come in handy later.
May the joy of open hearted generosity lighten all of our lives!