“We are living in an age which is hard and cruel, and if there is anything that we can offer to the world today, perhaps it is the example of tolerance and understanding.”
King George VI. December 25th, 1951.
Wise words from the King in 1951. Words that were intended not only to reach the hearts of his subjects, but the hearts of a world that was still recovering from WWII and whose hearts were angry and broken.
I don’t think there are many who think that 2016 was a great year. I personally thought it was downright horrible. Aside from the mess that was the election cycle, I saw dear friends and family members struggle with serious physical and mental health concerns and face soul crushing disappointments and trials. I read the King’s quote yesterday, and I wondered if it would apply today?
I broke it down. Are we living in an age which is hard and cruel? Undoubtedly. Is the example of tolerance and understanding something the world needs today? Of course, that goes without saying. However, what I feel is missing in the quote is to make sure people know that the example of tolerance and understanding should extend to tolerance and understanding of oneself. We’re constantly told to be kind to others, but it’s rare to hear that we should be kind to ourselves. We live in a world where self-induced exhaustion is considered heroic. To admit that we need to stop and breathe is to admit that you are a failure.
We are our own worst critics, worst enemies, and worst caretakers. Why is this the norm? I think about the things I say to myself, the opinions I have of myself, and the dialogue that runs in my head. Words and thoughts that I would never inflict on another human being, come very easy when I inflict them upon myself. What would the world look like if we all realize the power of being kind and understanding and tolerant to ourselves?
During the second half of 2016, my health suffered and I was forced to be kinder to myself physically. However, that fact mostly embarrassed me and I wasn’t very kind to myself mentally. I told myself that only a weak person would allow themselves to get so sick, that I should have continued to “tough it out” and hide my illness. I consistently was unkind, intolerant, and not understanding of myself. I’m trying very hard to give myself a break and encourage others to give themselves the benefit of the doubt. I don’t how we can be a genuinely humanitarian-based population if we don’t learn to be human to ourselves.
I plan to try a little self-kindness in 2017, and I encourage you to do the same. It certainly won’t hurt anything, and who knows? It just might do a world of good.