Being For Myself

I’ve been reading “Just One Thing: developing a buddha brain one simple practice at a time” by Rick Hanson.

images-3I enjoy Rick’s books and online writings, and have seen many of his YouTube videos. After reading the book through once, I’m following his suggestion and going back through it slowly. My intention is to spend a few days trying to apply the insights of each of the 52 brief chapters.

The first chapter is called “”Be For Yourself” and is a simple idea: that we must each be on our own side. Sounds easy, right?

But I think it is more difficult than it might first appear. Did anyone train you to look out for your own best interests? To be strong, fierce, and energetic on your own behalf?

I think I received other messages more loudly and clearly than that one. I was trained to not let anyone, including myself, “off the hook” morally. Perhaps a certain harshness was cultivated in my doctrinal upbringing. Who knows, perhaps I am genetically predisposed to be hard on myself.

I’m tempted to probe this theologically, since I am aware of two doctrines that tend to be “at war” with each other: the goodness of creation versus the reality of the power of evil. No wonder we hardly know what to think of ourselves. I remember being quite perplexed at age 16 when confronted with the question: are human beings essentially good or essentially bad? I saw scriptural support for either/both opinion.

I don’t know that I must solve a theological puzzle before I simply become more compassionate toward myself. How might I become mindful of the ways that my thoughts and opinions affect my emotions, particularly the harshest ones? If I can become more compassionate toward myself, might that help me become more compassionate toward the world?

One of the concrete steps Rick suggests is to purposely call to mind our younger selves. He writes: “See yourself as a young child — sweet, vulnerable, precious — and extend [an] attitude of loyalty, strength and caring toward that little girl. You could get a picture of yourself as a kid and look at it from time to time.”

early years 1

To implement this idea, I scanned a picture from my 5th birthday and put it on my Facebook page. I like seeing it there, and remembering what an innocent, eager child I once was. That child is still inside of me.

Also, I love this picture because it reminds me of the beautiful shaped cakes my mother always made for our birthdays, a treat which made me feel very special. It is one of the traditions I carried forward to my own children.

What you done to “be for yourself” lately?

About Ruth Everhart

I'm a Presbyterian minister and my faith has brought me to unexpected places. If you're curious about what it's like to go on pilgrimage to Israel/Palestine, I invite you to read my book "Chasing the Divine in the Holy Land."
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One Response to Being For Myself

  1. Beth Huizenga says:

    Great post in response to a wise man, Rick Hanson. I haven’t read the book you mentioned but I devoured “Buddha’s Brain, the Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom.” I really relate to what you’re saying about the need for self-compassion and how that is not necessarily automatic or intuitive. Thanks for this, Ruth!

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