TAKING CARE OF NUMBER ONE

"Man who man would be must rule the empire of himself.” - Percy Bysshe Shelley
This is a stressful and demanding age in which we live, replete with uncertain futures, confused values, tenuous relationships. Where deciding issues is concerned, many people have their feet firmly planted in mid-air! In contrast, in order to successfully master the many stressful events in the course of one's life, it is important to acquire a strong, solid sense of "self." That is, to become your own best friend; to take care of "number one." Often, people looking within don't like what they see. They create, "disappointment" by accessing and reviewing all the negative experiences from the past and having bad feelings about them now, in the present. In that regard, disappointment truly does require adequate planning!
Rejecting who they are and what potential resources exist, they then seek happiness outside themselves-- "Maybe if I get a raise...or a better job...or involved in a more seductive relationship, I will feel like a better person." The difficulty, of course, is that by failing to develop a strong sense of self while simultaneously seeking those outside elements believed to be tied to "happiness", a paradox is created. It goes something like this: You want others to love and recognize you while ignoring your shortcomings, especially the fact that you have little self-respect. But people primarily value-- and thereby reinforce-- others who they perceive value themselves! They often avoid those in whom they perceive weakness, as it tends to access their own negative, unwanted qualities! In this regard, your efforts to acquire love and approval may fall short, supporting your negative sense of self. So by projecting self-dislike while seeking approval, you are in effect creating your own problem! So how can you learn to take care of "number one?" How can you become your own best friend? Think of those from whom you seek approval. If people value others who they perceive value themselves, then it's likely that you have come to that conclusion about those you treasure as friends or models. Thus, it is important to develop the same positive attitude, self- respect and confidence; and love toward yourself as you perceive in those you respect.
The mechanics of becoming your own best friend involve taking over the role of a parent in loving and nurturing. But now it becomes loving and nurturing ourselves. 1) Water the resources you wish to grow! Each of us-- no matter how pathetically we experience ourself-- has past experiences of pleasant, successful encounters. Access the sights, sounds and feelings of one or more of these. If you can't remember one...pretend that you can! Let the elements of the experience(s) envelop you while you give yourself boundless encouragement, kindly patience and unqualified support. 2) Forgive yourself. Forgiveness is a way of cleansing-- erasing the board; starting over. In our society, we emphasize seeking this from others-- parents, clergy. But little mention is made of forgiving yourself! In the course of our lives, the way in which we react to various stressors-- our emotions-- may escape our control. Mark Twain once said, "When you are angry, count to four. When you are really angry, swear." Negative, volatile emotions such as anger, can seem stronger than we are. Especially when vented at others. We often then feel devastated, ashamed, ruined, unforgiving. But part of forgiving yourself is recognizing the fact that each encounter in your life involves a decision: Do you wish to be the ruler or slave of your emotions? The former involves manifesting painful feelings differently. Erase the board and tell yourself as a best friend, from now on you will act in ways that are in your best interests. Besides, people have short memories... 3) Hold regular self-recognition sessions. In the present, when you do something you are proud of, access those past pleasant memories and build upon them with current recognition. Bask in the glow...tell yourself you have done well, even if no one else does. And as you pass through your day with a little pleasant, knowing smile on your face, if someone should happen to mention that you seem "self-absorbed", simply broaden that smile and say, "Thank you!"