This Quote comes from the Dalai Lama and a preface he wrote for the wonderful book “The Power of Kindness” by Piero Ferrucci.
“On a simple, practical level, kindness creates a sense of warmth and openness that allows us to communicate much more easily with other people. We discover that all human beings are just like us, so we are able to relate to them more easily. That generates a spirit of friendship in which there is less need to hide what we feel or what we are doing. As a result, feelings of fear, self-doubt, and insecurity are automatically dispelled, while at the same time other people find it easier to trust us, too. What is more, there is increasing evidence that cultivating positive mental states like kindness and compassion definitely leads to better psychological health and happiness.”
I love this quote because it speaks so clearly to the concept of physical and emotional security being the underpinnings of self-esteem. You know I love Maslow’s Hierarchy of Basic Needs and this just reinforces the truth that if we are in relationships that don’t feel safe emotionally or physically because the other person is not consistently acting in a kind or compassionate way, we will naturally feel self-dout, fear and insecurity – ie. our needs for physical and emotional security won’t be met. This will directly undermine our self-esteem and our ability to realize our full potential in the world.
However, if we engage only in relationships where we feel safe and loved and accepted as we are then we have the resources to love and accept others fully and to offer the same great love, and kindness and compassion to ourselves, thus solidly planting us in positive self- esteem and allowing us to make manifest our gift to the world.
So, perhaps you could take advantage of this insight to stop and ask yourself if there are any people or situations in your life presently that undermine your sense of security:
ie. You feel judged, belittled, ostracized, “not good enough”. Or you receive feedback in a tone that carries a message of contempt or shaming. Or you might have someone in your life who frequently brings up painful topics (ie. your weight!) as a means of “motivating through criticism” or of establishing their superiority.
These would all be examples of situations where your emotional security needs wouldn’t be met, thus undermining your ability to feel safe and secure and also, often leading you to use harmful coping strategies like food or negative self-talk to take the focus of the painful situation with that person.
So, make a list of those situations or people that trigger feelings of fear or doubt and begin to explore the possibility of either spending less time with those people or of having courageous conversations and asking for what you need in order to feel safe.
You will be pleasantly surprised how often people will gladly meet your need when you tell them how to do so. Often the people in our lives are undermining our sense of security emotionally simply out of ignorance. They just don’t understand how their behaviour impacts us or is interpreted by us and, more often than not, simply clarifying that for them and letting them know what we would like, is enough to change that harmful pattern of relating.
The world needs you to be the best you can be; to bring your kindest, most compassionate self to the table. You can’t do that if you have harmful relationships that undermine your self-esteem because you won’t have the emotional or physical resources to bring your best self to others.
So consider it your duty to create the healthiest relationships you can with all the people in your life. You will benefit in so many ways, not the least of which is that you’ll stop using food to cope!