Caring For Yourself
Treat Yourself Like Someone You are Responsible For Helping.
For Mental Health Monday's post we will be taking another look into Jordan Peterson's self-help book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote For Chaos. Today we will be covering chapter 2, Treat Yourself Like Someone You are Responsible For Helping.
If you haven't read my first post on Chapter 1: Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back, you can go here. Additionally, I made an optional post on the book's preface which goes over its' overarching theme of order and chaos. You can read that article here.
If you're ready for Chapter 2 then let's take the plunge and deep dive into the text!
Chaos, Order and Consciousness (Our capacity for creating both)
We are beings who can create order or chaos, but what is chaos? what is order? and how is it that we can create either? The book distinguishes the two opposing forces as "formless potential" and "explored territory" respectively. Peterson advocates that we should have a bit of both. "To straddle that fundamental duality is to be balanced: to have one foot firmly planted in order and security, and the other in chaos, possibility, growth and adventure."
The reason why we can create order or chaos is because of our consciousness. Peterson uses Christian beliefs to understand our consciousness and human nature. In Genesis, Adam and Eve hid from God when they realized their nakedness after eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Likewise, we hide and become fearful of our nakedness because we are also afraid of having our imperfections shown to a perfect being, God. Peterson explains, "...the Ideal shames us all. Thus we fear it, resent it-even hate it."
Furthermore, this knowledge that we are naked has a nefarious outcome. Inside of ALL of us is the potential to inflict damage to others because of our understanding of nakedness in others as well. "We know how we are naked, and how that nakedness can be exploited-and that means we know how others are naked, and how they can be exploited." Peterson quotes the Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn that "the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being."
It goes without saying that people innately know that inflicting pain on another is morally wrong. The reason though, might not be as well known. Because God created humans in His likeness, we are special. Peterson agrees with this Christian notion; "you have a spark of the divine in you, which belongs not to you, but to god. We are, after all-according to Genesis-made in His image." What prevents us from inflicting pain onto others is the guilt and understanding that by doing so, we are hurting those who are also god-image-bearers. Without guilt, "-that sense of inbuilt corruption and capacity for wrongdoing-a man is one step from psychopathy?"
So why do we punish ourselves by not taking care of ourselves?
Since we all bear the image of God, that means we should not inflict pain, even unto ourselves. So why do we? Quoting Peterson, "No one has more reason to hold you in contempt, to see you as pathetic-and by withholding something that might do you good, you can punish yourself for all your failings." However such ideas are wrong since-"It is not virtuous to be victimized by a bully, even if that bully is oneself." Furthermore, hurting ourselves hurts others so there is no good that can come from forsaking ourselves.
So how do we become restored? As Peterson puts it-"...the answer is already implicit in Genesis I: to embody the Image of God-to speak out of chaos the Being that is Good-but to do so consciously, of our own free choice. Back is the way forward...but back as awake beings, exercising the proper choice of awake beings, instead of back to sleep [conscious but not self-conscious]..." Furthermore, "If we lived in Truth; if we spoke the Truth-then we could walk with God once again, and respect ourselves, and others, and the world."
The Golden Rule
The golden rule of treating others the way you want to be treated should remind us that there is a standard we need to uphold for ourselves as well. As Peterson explains "...there is little difference between standing up and speaking for yourself, when you are being bullied or otherwise tormented and enslaved, and standing up and speaking for someone else. As Jung points out, this means embracing and loving the sinner who is yourself, as much as forgiving and aiding someone else who is stumbling and imperfect."
This chapter has reminded me of the importance of forgiving one's self. Once we have put our faith in Christ there is no longer any condemnation (Romans 8:1). If we walk in that truth, we can better take care of ourselves. Additionally, it is easier to take care of someone (yourself) if they are behaving morally than not. We shouldn't lean on this fact to "whip us" into shape but lean on God's love that, although we were sinners, came after us. That love will spark the moral thoughts and habits to treat ourselves rightly. One day we will be in Eden and this chaos will be a dream of a dream.
So, I encourage my reader; take care of yourself, as though you were taking care of someone you love.
It is interesting to see someone who is very drawn to Christian thought but is not a Christian. I recall a video that I have watched recently of Jordan Peterson becoming overwhelmed by the thought that Christianity could be reality, not just ways of conceptualizing the world around us. I urge my brothers and sister to pray for his salvation. Although he may know of Christ, he must take the next step and put his faith in Christ. Here is a video I have found that goes over this issue.