Love Yourself as Your Neighbor

By: Alan Shaw in Personal Development, 2 years ago


I was talking with a colleague several weeks ago about modifying our training curriculum while maintaining a focus on self-awareness. It was about that time that he said we should “love ourselves as our neighbors“. I paused thinking he meant to say we should “love our neighbor as ourselves” but he said the commandment to love our neighbor assumed that we understood how to love ourselves. Does someone with low self-awareness fully understand how their behavior affects others? How does that lack of awareness translate to the responsibility of loving their neighbors?

Growing up, I understood the meaning of the Golden Rule: “Treat other people the way you would want to be treated”. It was the standard phrase no one (that I knew at least) ever questioned. But the Golden Rule also assumes: we know how other people would like to be treated based on our desires. With such a diverse world, why would we create a self-centered view of how to treat others? The Golden Rule eventually evolved to the Platinum Rule: “Treat others the way they want to be treated”. But both rules still boil down to the ideas that I’m either self-aware enough to know how I would want to be treated and will treat others accordingly or I’m self-aware enough to know how someone else would like to be treated and will adjust accordingly.

I’ve taken several personality and behavioral assessments over the years and none have surprised me; however, I think we all know someone whose blind spots are so large, they could use a healthy dose of self-awareness. Words like “dignity” and “respect” resonate in training curriculums but not necessarily in life. Beliefs are sometimes raised as absolutes without debate or conversation. Some people resort to verbal or physical abuse against those they disagree with politically, socially, economically, or philosophically. Are they self-aware? If so, do they know (or care) how to apply their behaviors when interacting with others? Do they know (or care) how others’ behaviors may conflict with their own?

The successful application of self-awareness becomes the challenge. What would be different in your life if you understood how others were naturally behaving? What would be different in your family or business if others better understood your natural behavior? Consider finding a coach and discuss how a behavior assessment may benefit you. I’d love to discuss one of my favorites with you as well.

User Comments

3 Replies

  1. Joseph Seiler

    a nice piece Alan, thanks. One thing that I’d like to reinforce is that we do not know ourselves fully. Part of being human. Recall the JoHari window, four quadrants, we both know, I know, you know, neither of us know. And the way to grow the I know part is to share more of ourselves (be vulnerably truthful), and, to invite others to comment on us. Those tend to shrink the neither of us know part. Coaching increases self awareness. Hooray for Coaches. Yet, even then, there remains some bits that we do not know about, even though we might claim that we do. Nice, thought provoking article Alan

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  2. Edward Hammett

    Reflective exercise for coaches and clients. Thanks for sharing your discoveries, challenges and the opportunities that come with deepening self awareness.

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  3. Will Wiebe BA MS CPC

    Hi Alan… Love the power of your own reflective story on maintaining in growing and integrating ones self-awareness. I also feel that my ability to respond is limitless in growing my self-awareness. I’m one hundred percent responsible for everything I am and everything I am not, for my capacities and my incapacities, for my joys and my miseries. I am the one who determines the nature of my experience in this life and beyond. I am the maker of my life. Thank you for your reflective points…. came at a perfect time for me!

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