Every single thing I found wrong with my friends was always something that I, deep down, found wrong with myself.

Every single thing I found wrong with my family… the same.

Every single issue I had with my employees, colleagues, and employers was always an issue I had with myself.

I just never could see it. And when I could, I certainly could never admit it. There was no way I would concede to such a radical concept. Not to any of the people in my life.

And certainly not to myself.

Never to myself.

Shit.

I didn’t love myself. I had never loved myself. In fact, I had always reviled and absolutely hated myself. As much as I didn’t want it to be true, and as much as I danced through time with a freakishly happy expression to cover up the truth, such an actuality was the only rock-solid thing I had in my life.

And it destroyed my life.

Loving others the way I loved myself destroyed my life.

And it was in that final moment, when destruction had officially had her way with me, that I started this blog. And that is why I have written so much of what I’ve written… So many of the things that have been shared here. So much of the journey to figure out what love and my role in it actually is.

Being brought to that point… the point when you have no choice but to admit that all the crap in your life is probably the product of you, it’ll force you to be a little more honest with yourself. At least it did with me.

At 30 years old, I was alone. Wanting to disappear. Wanting to die.

And it was my own damned fault.

Every. Single. Freaking. Bit of it.

And so, when I hear the mandate ‘love your neighbor as you love yourself,’ I have to pause for a moment and reflect on the cogency of that statement.

Because the truth is, there are a lot of people in this world who don’t love themselves. Not truly. There are a lot of people in this world who are disgusted by themselves. There are a lot of people in this world who live lives that revolve around past mistakes and past regrets and past hurt. In fact, there are a lot of people in this world who flat out hate themselves. They hate the way they look. They hate the way they feel. They hate the way they think. They hate who they are now and they hate who they have shown themselves to be in years or decades preceding. Many of them are the same as I was. Deceived. Apparently Happy. Deep down, miserable.

Yes, there are some amazing people who don’t have insecurities. There are some amazing people who don’t dislike themselves, hate themselves, or live their lives regretting the past. There are some amazing people who are genuinely happy. But I truly believe that there are a lot more people who do struggle with it. Most of them just don’t really know it. They disguise it to the world and even more tragically, they disguise it to themselves and they disguise it to those to whom they are closest.

As I’ve worked these past sixteen months to unravel the unsightly tapestry that was my own messy self, I’ve come to understand just how much of the societal and mental refuse that goes on in this world is a result of people reacting to their own insecurities and to their own self-loathing thoughts.

Every time I’ve spoken or heard hateful words about another, every time I’ve spoken or heard destructive gossip, every time I’ve spoken or heard slander and insult and slur…

It is always, 100% of the time, 100% because of some insecurity or self-loathing core belief.

Why? Because…

Sane and rational people who love themselves don’t hurt other people.

Sane and rational people who truly love themselves never hurt other people.

Not on purpose.

They don’t slander other people. They don’t bully other people. They don’t look for fault or ugliness in other people. They don’t look for who’s too fat or who’s too emaciated. Who’s too rich or who’s too poor. Who’s too gay or who’s too homophobic. Who’s too conservative or who’s too liberal. Who’s too strong-mouthed and who’s too passive.

They don’t look for anybody who’s too anything or not too anything.

Of this I have never been more certain.

This is the number one most concrete realization I have come to since my life fell completely apart.

People who love themselves don’t hurt other people.

Not on purpose.

Ever.

They have no need to hurt other people. They have no need to bully others. They have no need to feel better than or superior to others.

They realize that the need to feel superior always stems from a core belief that one is inferior to others. The need to dominate others always stems from a core belief that one is or might end up being dominated by others. The need to bully others always stems from a history or a fear of being bullied. The need to be better than others always stems from a belief that others are somehow better than us.

I don’t care how you twist it, how you kink it, or how you dissect it, this is a reality that ultimately can’t be argued.

But it will be argued and always has been argued. Because to some degree, every one of us does it. It’s human nature. And who wants to admit that we do it at all, let alone that we do it because we ourselves feel inferior, dominated, bullied, or less than others?

We as human beings don’t like to admit that we have weakness or vulnerability.

We don’t like to admit that we have skeletons in our own closets.

We don’t like to believe that we have hurtful or hateful thoughts about not only those we don’t know, but about those who are closest to us.

We don’t like to believe that we’re anything less than ideal, anything less than sane, and anything less than perfect.

And by hurting others, we don’t have to. Being hurtful or hateful is the magic tonic that makes it all go away.

It let’s us bury it.

Disguise it.

Hide it.

Put a sheep’s skin onto it and go prancing around wolfing down the good unsuspecting people around us.

Love your neighbors as yourself.

It’s a scary thought.

A real scary thought. To me, anyway.

What the directive should probably be is, “love yourself, and then love your neighbor as yourself.”

Or better yet, just “love yourself.”

Because when we love ourselves, we love our neighbors. Automatically and without thinking about it.

Continued on next page.

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Dan Pearce is an American-born author, app developer, photographer, and artist. This blog, Single Dad Laughing, is what he’s most known for, with more than 2 million daily subscribers as of 2017. Pearce writes mostly humorous and introspective works, as well as his musings which span from fatherhood, to dating, to life, to the people and dynamics of society. Single Dad Laughing is much more than a blog. It’s an incredible community of people just being real and awesome together!