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.