'Treat others as you would have them treat you.' It's an adage I was raised on.
We were taught early on to be nice to each other. We learned that rude and selfish behaviour is punished, good deeds are praised.
I can recall specific instances when I thought, 'that is how I want to treat other people' - such as a woman I met who loved to bake and always made extra. She would give the extra loaves, buns or cakes to whomever happened to be around - guests, neighbours, her friends or her children's friends. She also had a way of asking questions and listening, really listening to what you said in reply.
I have friends in town who, when I was struggling to make ends meet, would take me out for dinner or a drink and insist they pay. Their generosity was humbling, but appreciated.
I have been inspired by people who give of themselves, and their possessions, selflessly. Also by those who do those few extra little things to make you feel really welcome, really appreciated. Although I know I fail, I could say that I am always trying to live in a way that is more generous and considerate of others.
So it was a bit of a shock when I was told to stop focusing on others and try to do something nice for myself. I am seeing a psychiatrist who has a no nonsense approach and seems to see her job as shattering all my assumptions.
"If you were to write me a cheque for 1 million dollars to feed all the hungry people, that would be very nice," she said. "I'm sure it would make you feel very good.
"But if I tried to cash that cheque, it would bounce. You don't have a million dollars."
"You can't give to others what you don't have."
She said she honours my intentions to help others. But she wants me to learn to help myself. She asked me what I do for myself that is kind. What do I give to myself?
Not an easy question to answer.
She has challenged me to do one nice thing for myself each day. Treat myself as if I were my own friend, a friend who was struggling though some tough times and needed some extra kindness. Is it strange that it's only when I think of treating myself as someone else that I get ideas of what nice thing to do?
She wants to see my list next time I visit her. A list of something nice each day.
So on Tuesday I went to Bridgehead to get a coffee on the way to the office. But instead of taking it to go, I asked for it in a mug then sat in the coffee shop, looking over work notes and planning my day instead of rushing in to it. That was nice.
Yesterday I finished most of my work in time to make popcorn and watch France beat Portugal at the World Cup finals. That was very nice. (-:
Today.... well, it's early. I'm still working on it.
For anyone reading this, I invite you to join me in this challenge.
Let's treat ourselves the way we want others to treat us.