PQ 21.4 — In what ways do I care for myself? How do I care for the people around me?

a shadowy outline of two people with long hair on either end of a table. The person on the left is standing. The one of the right is sitting in a chair
Image by Pedro Ribeiro Simões / CC BY

PQ 21.4 — In what ways do I care for myself? How do I care for the people around me?

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The way that I care for myself and the way that I care for others is similar. I’ve come to realize something very important: A big part of love for me is giving someone the benefit of the doubt. Especially when something is ambiguous.

And let’s be real. When it comes to social interactions, it’s nearly always ambiguous.

So unless something seems to be a pattern — and especially if it continues to be a negative pattern after I’ve gently pointed it out… I usually don’t sweat it.

With other people, yes. And also with myself.

Because self-compassion, the ability of a person to feel compassion for themselves when they’re suffering or fail at something, is extremely important. And it’s the kind of self-love that’s healthy and leads to pro-social interactions with others.

I’ve also decided that rather than remaining hypervigilant for signs that my partners don’t love me that I should be a different kind of love detective. One that’s on the hunt for what my partners are doing right. The evidence that they seem to care. Focusing on purpose on everything I love about my partners. Everything they do right.

It’s been a powerful shift in my thinking… moving away from the bias that the people I’m with don’t care about me. And moving to being biased that they do.

But to me, love is giving someone the benefit of the doubt.

Does this benefit extend infinitely? No. If there’s active mistreatment, that’s no good. Or a troubling pattern, especially one that has been thoroughly addressed by both of us and it seems like they’re not even willing to work on it.

But I’ve changed where the burden of proof lies. And that’s a good thing.

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This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions and answers, please see this indexed list.

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