While commenting on giving v/s sacrificing (click), I started wondering if the entire concept of ‘giving’ is applicable to our own selves. If everything starts with ourselves, why should giving be any different?
It is easy to feel compassion for others but it is really hard to feel compassion for yourself. You might be thinking that I have lost my sanity here because all the violence in the world is a result of not caring about others, right? But almost everything we do for ourselves is not compassionate. We think that those who harm others are ‘giving’ to themselves by taking from others but look closely and you will notice that it is taking disguised as giving. I would say that violence is actually the result of lack of compassion for self.
Let’s say that you are obsessed with good grades to the point that you think that your self-worth is totally based on your mark-sheet. You might think that you are doing all this to ‘give’ yourself a stable and bright future and to some extent you are right. However, this is more like ‘taking’ and ‘demanding’ from yourself. It is of course normal and healthy to expect good things from yourself but when you feel unworthy because of your mark-sheet then how can you call it ‘giving’? If we analyze most of the things that we do, we will realize that we mostly demand unrealistic things from ourselves. And if we cannot even give to ourselves, how can we give to others?
The ego wants us to to impossible things like be the first one to climb the Mount Everest or be the fastest runner on earth. All this is completely fine if it’s done with compassion. But if you feel that you MUST do something and that you cannot love yourself unless you ‘achieve’ something then you are torturing yourself. When we allow toxic thoughts to take control of us and then act on them, are we really giving to ourselves? Doesn’t it sound like people who sacrifice half halfheartedly by call it ‘giving’ and then demand something in return? You are, in a way, bullying your own self (I wrote about it here).
Remember this: Ego CANNOT give anything..the only thing it knows is to take. You can test this for yourself. Try liking yourself for EXACTLY who you are right now. You don’t need any improvements. It’s tough, isn’t it? The ego is so smart that it can even turn acceptance into an ideal (I MUST love myself!) Try living in the present. It’s nearly impossible (unless you are in a phase where the ego is on a high). Ego promises to give you and it fulfills its promise but the ego boost only lasts for a short period of time. After sometime, the ego is again demanding things from you. If you are doing something primarily for boosting your ego, then you are setting yourself for eternal dissatisfaction.The ego is a part of US and its nature clearly shows that we only demand and take from ourselves.
What is giving to self then?
If giving to your ego is taking then what can you give to yourself? I personally believe that the greatest gift that you can give to yourself is awareness. Once you are aware, even ego becomes your friend! You can then work with ego and not against it.
When you follow your heart, you give to yourself. When you accept yourself, you give to yourself. You can also gift yourself self-improvement because we feel happy when we get better. However, it is only awareness that help us in differentiating between obsession and love (click), acceptance and idealism (click) as well as self improvement and perfection (click).
Charity and giving begins at home!