As are so many of you, I am shocked, saddened and bewildered by Robin Williams’ suicide. It is so tragic that a man of such comic genius who could bring so much joy and laughter to other’s was in such a state of hopelessness and despair that he felt there was no other solution. It made me wonder what demons drove him to do this.
I’m sure many recall the “Golden Rule” – treat others as you wish to be treated. I’ve often thought that is a very powerful and simple way to deal with others (even if I often fail at it myself). Then a recent Tarot reading I did for myself made me wonder if perhaps this is backwards. Treating others as you want to be treated might actually be more common that we think. I think the truth is that we are much harsher on ourselves than anyone else could possibly be but it’s a trait we hide from others.
We often assume other people think they are amazing and wonderful but treat the rest of us as subhuman chud. In reality I think many of us are so filled with varying levels of self-loathing, self-doubt and vicious inner criticisms that it’s all we can do to be polite to others. Those inner voices that criticize, harangue and dog us on a daily basis create a cacophony from which there is not escape. They may quiet down for periods of time but at our weakest moment they come roaring back to life. I think that’s why so many people either self-medicate or seek psychiatric meds – to deal with these feelings of inadequacy and incompetence. I’m not trying to downplay the seriousness of depression but I think there are lesser levels of “the blues” that might be caused by this type of inner self-flagellation.
Perhaps the real key is to treat ourselves the way we wish to treat others. It might lead to us being gentler, more forgiving and kinder to ourselves. I know I’m often much more willing to grant some latitude to people who have “wronged” me than I am when I feel I’ve screwed up. My anger at others may be fierce and loud but it’s usually quickly gone. When I’m disappointed or angry with myself it goes bone deep and seeps into every aspect of my being. It rears its ugly head when I least expect it and undermines many of my good efforts. Silencing those inner critics and self-doubts is probably one of the most challenging things I’ve every tried. I think that’s the message this reading offered to me – keep trying and working on that process.