How can we become genuinely caring and not judging of others?

It’s a process that has to start with ourselves. We not only need to love ourselves and stop giving ourselves a hard time, we also need to understand what that love means. It’s a simple thing to say; an easy enough phrase to throw about, but what does it mean to love ourselves? And how does that impact our relationship with other people?

Part of love is acceptance. To embrace our unique set of experiences, outlooks and behaviours, and look for what’s good. Maybe you struggle to think of things to like about yourself. Well, that’s easy to change. Try this: think of somebody in your life and something you really like about them. Then go and tell them. It might seem a strange thing to do, but imagine receiving a message like that from somebody you know; imagine how that would make you feel. So go and make somebody feel good, and hey presto – you did something wonderful. Even if that’s the only thing you can think of, it’s a brilliant thing to do, and you did it. Next time you pass a cat, stop and give it a pet. Watch how it warms to you and enjoys your touch. You’re generating goodness. Grow that kindness – indulge in it regularly and don’t run away from how good it makes you feel. That could be the starting point from which you can grow to love yourself by accepting who you are and the good things you do.

Another aspect of love is non-judgement. How quick we can be to dismiss ourselves by comparing ourselves to others, or to belittle our own achievements. It’s a healthy practice to create a sanctuary; somewhere free of the narrative we condemn ourselves with, that tells us we may have a cool outfit, but we’re still ugly; that tells us that we may think we’re funny but everyone else thinks we’re dumb; that tells us we only look good in photos if we take them from one specific angle; that tells us we’ll never amount to anything and nobody truly likes us. We condemn ourselves with blame and judgement. It’s time to make a place for ourselves where thoughts like that are not allowed. Nobody has to know about it, but it needs to exist, and every time we feel down, or want to hurt ourselves, we go there. Because it’s safe. And in that place, we put our heart, and the way we feel about ourselves. That’s protected now.

The third aspect of love I want to mention is commitment. Love doesn’t give up. It sees us through, when others see we’re through. How committed are you to yourself? Have you ever considered it? Inside every single one of us is a wonderful person, but many of us don’t feel particularly wonderful. Even if we can try to accept ourselves, without judgement, what’s there may not make us feel terribly excited. So what then? That’s where self-commitment comes in. Your commitment to be the best version of you that you can be – the version where smiles and laughter aren’t a notable event, they’re simply part of who you are as you go about the business of being alive. The version of you who decides on a goal and sets out to achieve it because you can do it, and you’re worth it. Commitment can also mean picking yourself up when you drop the ball and get into a rut about yourself – maybe those voices get louder for a bit and start to take over. Self-commitment can help get you over that hump so you see the other side and keep going on your amazing journey.

So, self-acceptance, non-judgement, and self-commitment. What does that have to do with other people? Well, we tend to radiate the relationship we have with ourselves. There’s one person who’s constantly in our lives, who we spend every second of every day with, and that’s us. We’re the best person to practice on, and if we can grow in this way personally, we’ll already be disciplined in these areas. So let’s give ourselves a break, even just for a bit, and see how it feels. Let’s create a safe space in our lives and check in there regularly. Let’s reach out to others and be inspired by the impact that has, and keep doing it until we gravitate there naturally. Let’s be pleasantly amazed by the way in which our relationship with ourselves spills over to better the lives of those around us and our disposition towards them.

How can I feel happy again?

Short term: a tub of your favourite ice cream, this song, this book, this video, this audio 😉

Long term: can happiness actually be pursued? Or is it a beautiful by-product of a different, more fulfilling quest? Sometimes we fixate on our desired state. We want to feel free, lucky, chosen, blessed… happy. But these states of being aren’t things we can just go out and get. They’re what we feel when something else happens.

So the deeper question is: what should be our focus? What approach should we adopt that’s most likely to make us feel the way we want to? And not for its own sake, because we all know that feelings are temporal. I mean, what approach to life will make us feel satisfied regardless of the changing seasons? Which path will see us smile in the rain as much as the sunshine?

That’s a big question, and one we have to answer ourselves. I would say this: there are situations I’ve experienced which make me think that acts of kindness and generosity, especially when sacrificial, can produce intense feelings of living ‘right’, and bring about a deep sense of happiness. The message to your friend to let them know what they mean to you; the call to your parents to tell them how loved they are; the two minutes spent with somebody homeless to let them know they’re worth more than your spare change. There are a myriad ways.

But perhaps the most important factor is self-care.

Please don’t be too hard on yourself – you’re a beautiful person with a unique blend of things to give to those around you and those who will soon meet you. Try not to judge yourself, compare yourself, or give an amplifier to those voices that upset you.

Take good care of yourself, then those around you, and you’ll start to feel happy again.

How to love?

This is such an important question, because the answer simultaneously provides solutions to many other related traumas. How can I feel like I’m worthwhile? Where is my sense of happiness/fulfilment? What can I do to make a difference? All of these are wrapped up in this question, but here are the main two related enquiries:

How can I feel loved? / How can I live in a better world?

The reason these questions are wrapped up in one another is because of the way many of them are by-products of a choice of attitude. They’re what happens when we choose to give. A better world is a result of activity; being loved results from loving. Each of us are the starting point to a brighter future, through our choice of attitude and the way we react, specifically to the shit that inevitably gets thrown at us.

So, how do we love? How can we conquer our proclivity to judge and compare ourselves and others? How can we overcome our sense of selfishness and entitlement? How can we foster a better commitment to others, to see them through as we’d like them to do for us?

All good answers lie in a full appreciation of the question. Break it down – what do you actually mean by ‘love’? Why is that not happening for you, assuming it’s not? What steps could you take to change that?

For me? The answer lies in stepping out of my immediacy; in recognising that my little microcosm of existence can easily start to serve itself, to the benefit of nobody. What would I like this Christmas – the latest iPhone or to see my best friend smile and laugh, creating memories that last longer than Apple’s product cycle? You could have both, the question is your focus. There can be a material readjustment to make. Love can be sacrificial, but generosity reaps rewards.

There’s also a psychological adjustment happening for most of us. We’re conditioned to believe that love is what happens to other people. It’s what we go to the cinema to watch. It’s what we daydream about. It’s what we see on our Facebook feed. We share twee pictures on Tumblr to let everybody else know what’s out of our reach. So close, but not for us.

But love is out there. And once we’ve abandoned our material entitlement of life, we’re free to embrace a wider, more caring, giving and forgiving narrative, where love doesn’t depend on recognition of our image or possessions, but on what we do for each other. Start by thinking of what you like about people around you, and let them know. If you don’t do it often, you’ll get a strange look back, but be consistent and see what happens. Eventually you’ll receive a smile, a hug, or a compliment, and then a closer bond and a stronger friendship. Cynicism can go fuck itself.

How to love? By recognising that love isn’t just possible, it’s within our reach.

Why is life so hard?

It can often feel that way, can’t it? Life can seem a lonely, uphill struggle. Yet to others, life appears to be easy. Why is it some of us struggle with things that don’t seem to affect someone else? Is it that their life is easier? Have we been dealt a bad hand of cards? Is there something wrong with us?

It certainly feels the case that some of us have more challenging circumstances than others, but we don’t need to spend long thinking of what’s commonly considered an ‘easier life’ before we remember somebody famous or successful who’s struggling like many of us do, sometimes badly.

So I don’t think it’s ‘life’ that’s hard, if by ‘life’ we mean our circumstances and situations.

I think it’s often our choice of perception that makes things seem so tough. We tend to focus on our imperfections rather than what makes us unique. We give ourselves a hard time for our mistakes more than we celebrate our achievements. We can be quick to judge ourselves by our limitations rather than focus on what we do well. How quickly our minds recall an insult, yet we might have to really think to remember a compliment.

How we choose to think and position ourselves can determine how our lives will feel. It’s not easy, and it requires willpower and self-discipline, but a great place to start to alter how we feel about life is by focussing on our relationship with ourselves. Here are some facts: You are able. You are competent. You are likeable. You are worthy. If none of that feels true, just pretend it is for a week and see what happens. Self-belief is the beginning of confidence, and confidence can be a game changer.

The truth is, you are all of those things and more. Your life is a beautiful bubble of wonder; a unique set of once-only experiences that only you will ever live through, so when things seem difficult, become the observer of your life from a wider angle and let that perspective help keep your head above water. I believe in you. You can do it.

Question: You have to pick one door…

Full question: “Say I’m standing in front of you with 2 keys to 2 separate doors. You HAVE to pick one. Door 1, will leave you in the life you have now, just as it is, with the exception of 1 million pounds added to your bank account. Door 2 merges in your kitchen, where your wife and 2 kids (a boy and a baby girl if that helps) are waiting for you. Other than that, your life is pretty normal: same job, same friends, etc. But you can’t record your audios ever again. Which door do you pick?

 

So the first door is exactly the same life but with a million pounds, and the second gives me a family, but no audios?

It’s a no-brainer. I choose door two.

I love making these audios, I really do. And a lot of money would be amazing, but there’s no price I could ever put on a loving partner or to have children of my own. To love, and to love back; to look into my child’s eyes and know they’re looking up at their daddy…  you could offer me ten million to choose the first door and I’d not hesitate to run to my children, to pick them up and hold them, to kiss their forehead and tell them I love them, then to glance up with tearful eyes at the love of my life and be eternally grateful for their place in my heart.

There’s no amount of money that would ever cause me to reject that.

To experience that wonder is something I desire with my whole soul. I hope one day to meet the somebody out there who yearns for the same, and realise our dreams together, because to kiss the lips of my soul mate, and to hold our baby close to my beating heart, would make me the richest man in the whole world.

What type of person are you looking for in a relationship?

In my ideal relationship, there’d be a synergy; a coming together of energies that would combine in the most perfectly wonderful and compatible way. That’s to say, I’m not looking for somebody in order to tick a box, or for personal gain. I’m hoping to give as much as get, knowing that my partner will be of like mind, and that together we match through an implicit understanding, and a spilling over of self-interest. Me becomes we, and our affection manifests in a merger of identity, not via co-dependency, but through a deep and profound sense of love, and a spirit of giving, caring and protection.

Would you like specifics?

My love and I would leave each other treats, to be found through riddles in post-it notes placed randomly around our home. We’d wake to find the other’s fingers softly running through the other’s hair, waking them with a smile that says ‘I love you more today than I ever have’. When one of us needs space that’s totally cool – the other understands and respects our time alone, but they rarely leave our thoughts.

We’ll marathon through Orange Is The New Black, stopping only to order more pizza. We’ll pour over maps of the world and plan adventures or simply dream together of a life out of reach. We communicate through a squeeze of a hand or a kiss on the forehead, and we both know exactly what that means.

We’ll dance together, to our favourite music, turned up to maximum. We’ll drink, knowing no matter how much we embarrass ourselves, we’re loved. We’ll fuck for hours, and often, giving and receiving in ways in which we lose ourselves to orgasm after orgasm, whether it’s sweet and tender or rough and primal.

When life deals us blows, we’ll be there for each other unconditionally. When life deals us triumphs, we’ll revel in each other’s success. We’ll talk about cats, and babies; about raising a family together, and inside we’ll both hope for our unborn that they have a parent as amazing as this.

There’s no point at which things get so difficult we’re no longer prepared to sacrifice for each other; this is it for us – pure commitment. And if the time should come that our paths go in different directions, we’ll kiss through our tears and always be thankful for what we’ve meant to each other.

I’m a single man. I haven’t yet found my love, and I’ve not spent a great deal of time trying. But as I write these words, there’s a certain ache in my heart, and my bed looks empty. Who knows what the future might bring, for us all.