Photo by Kate Opre
I’ve noticed a trend recently in which having an aversion to caring, opening up, trusting others, and allowing others to put their trust in you is being praised as independence. I understand. We’re young and having any sort of dependency on someone oftentimes doesn’t always allow us to grow as much as we would like. The problem with this is that what is being glorified isn’t independence, it’s simply heartlessness, and confusing the two is harmful.
It’s safe to say this heartlessness stems from a cruel society. If we’re being honest with ourselves, I think we can all say at one time or another we’ve hardened ourselves as a way of protecting ourselves from the harshness of others. One person treats us poorly, and, as a way of making sure we never experience that again, we don’t let anyone else close enough to inflict that sort of damage again. This has caused a perceived dilemma in which we have to choose between being kind to ourselves or being kind to others. We believe that if we don’t look out for ourselves, no one else is going to. So, we close ourselves off, consume ourselves with our own self-interests and contribute to the same hardened society that made us feel this way in the first place. It’s a cycle. Hurt people are going to hurt people.
I think people are generally good. I think we genuinely want the best for ourselves and for others, but we have no idea how that is supposed to be accomplished. We don’t know how to love others without opening the door for pain. I’ve been there and I’m working through it.
While I’ve been working through this dilemma, I’ve learned something: there’s no way we can love others the way we ideally would like to if we don’t even love ourselves. Until we love ourselves, we are going to continue the cycle of hurt that we all know too well. If there’s one resolution you make this year, I want to encourage you to simply treat yourself better. Care for yourself, trust yourself, see the good in yourself. As soon as your opinion of yourself is able to remain constant regardless of the influence of others, you’ll be able to contribute to other’s lives in the most positive of ways.
I think we need to have enough of hardening ourselves as a form of protection. It’s time we grow ourselves in order to contribute to the lives of others.