“If you get shot by an arrow, do you shoot yourself with another?” This is one of my favourite Buddhist parables, as I simply think it resonates with most people. How many times have you found yourself in a not-so-ideal situation, and rather than dealing with it, you simply made yourself feel worse? I can assume it was more than once. The issue is that we lack self-compassion – we feel guilty for being kind to ourselves, and rather than being our own friends, we become our biggest enemies.
The matter is illogical. If your friend, for example, felt low or disappointed with themselves, would you strike them with more negativity, or would you support them and attempt to raise their mood? I presume it is the latter. Such instances prove that we can, in fact, be loving, so why do so many of us struggle with channeling that love onto ourselves, and struggle with being kind?
It takes the smallest and most trivial mistake for an avalanche of negativity to follow; one simply has to wake up late, miss an assignment or even just drop something, and that is enough to set off the gun. We are a society that is unfair on ourselves and so obsessed with progress and prize that we seem to forget about the bigger picture, and the importance of the journey that leads to the final destination.
This is something I felt not too long ago – things just weren’t going my way, and my day, which began bad, only got worse and worse, with a build-up of negative emotions shortly followed by rash responses. When something didn’t go my way, and I was struck by the first ‘arrow’ rather than stepping to the side, taking a moment and responding logically (I mean, in a way that did not resemble a Godzilla), I rushed into the negative thoughts and automatically stuck my self with the second ‘arrow’. And consequently, I was left with an unpleasant situation, which I successfully made greatly more distressful – a round of applause, please.
The solution is no science or black magic, and as cliche as it may be, all it requires is love (eye roll). Just take a moment to process that – the solution to most of your personal distress is simply a natural human emotion, isn’t that easy? In theory, yes it should be however, society has taught us that self-love is selfish and arrogant, and rather than championing self-care and acceptance, it’s turned the cat on its tale and brainwashed us into believing we are being immoral for thinking about ourselves.
I’m not asking any of you to now spend 3 hours in the mirror each day or to suddenly love every part of yourself, because both of those aren’t healthy, or realistic (for most people). I am however suggesting, that we should show unconditional love and appreciation of all our aspects – both the ‘flaws’ and ‘assets’ should be acknowledged, and never judged, this way when we are facing a troublesome situation, we can react rationally without that small moment affecting the rest of our day.