We Should Treat Others As We Wish To Be Treated
It’s often said that there are two types of people, radiators and drains. Radiators are so called because they radiate energy, and it’s contagious. They’re interesting because they’re interested, and when we interact with a radiator we feel like we’ve soaked up a bit of their energy, and we are left inspired, feeling special and wanting more.
When a radiator interacts with someone, that person is left better off than they were before.
Drains are the opposite. They literally drain our energy. They are exhausting, soak up our positivity and leave us worse off than prior to the interaction. They complain about everything for the sake of it, they are judgemental, they fixate on the negative and they are victims of an unjust world. They want our pity and our help, they want us to share in life’s misery, and they wonder why nobody wants to hang out with them.
We are all a bit of both, and I know from personal experience that in my darkest times I was more drain than radiator. I strive to be the opposite today – for some people it comes naturally, but for others, like me, it takes practice – but it’s a nice place to be.
Part of being a radiator is about treating people as you would wish to be treated. That is, essentially, not being a shit in the way we act towards others, and trying to give them the attention and respect that you would wish to receive should you be in their shoes. At best, leave them better off after an interaction. At least, don’t leave them disadvantaged.
But here’s the thing, in the practice of kindness, empathy and compassion – especially in the practice of ‘radical kindness’ – we give so much that we have little left for ourselves. And in fact we put ourselves at a disadvantage.
We give the last of our coins and leave ourselves without. We give away our lunch and leave ourselves hungry. We hand over our pride, so that someone else can claim victory or, at the very least, to maintain the peace. We give of ourselves emotionally until we have nothing left to give.
But here’s the paradox in that. As compassionate, empathic people, if someone was to offer us their attention, assistance or support and leave themselves less well off or disadvantaged in the process, would we allow them to do it? The answer must be no. So, therefore, when we leave ourselves less well off by practicing this radical compassion and empathy – when we give it all away so that others may get by while we do not – we are not treating others as we wish to be treated. Indeed, if we were to treat others as we would wish to be treated, we must allow ourselves to keep a little back for ourselves.
And when I talk about keeping a little for ourselves, I’m not condoning greed or selfishness, but I’m talking about enough to allow ourselves to flourish and fulfil our potential and live the good lives of abundance that we deserve and without feeling guilty about it. It’s about recognising that we are talented, hard-working individuals, and we are not ashamed to enjoy the rewards that come with that. Because when we are rested, nurtured, fulfilled and operating at our highest level, we can do so much more for others than when we are broken, depressed, tired, hungry and in a state of lack.
But this is the dichotomy of attempting to embrace an attitude of compassion and humility. So often this leads to us denying our strengths and our victories, and allowing others to go first. It is vital, then, that we nurture the self-awareness that will allow us to have the life of confidence and fulfilled potential that we are capable of, without the arrogance or guilt that could so easily come with it.
We must affect a balance that enables us to says yes, I am worthy, and yes, I do put myself first. But in doing so I also recognise the worthiness and the struggles and the strengths of those around. Because the difference between the richest and the poorest among us is just a hairs breadth, and there but for the grace of god go I.
If we wish to treat others as we wish to be treated, then we should treat ourselves like the amazing radiators we are, and while embracing an attitude of compassion we must also expect others to take a degree of responsibility for their own lives, just as we must take responsibility for ours. We should be proud of what we have achieved, proud of our potential for more, and proud of the unique offering that we bring to the universe. And we should treat others as if they are just as unique, wonderful, capable and interesting as we hope we are, and as we strive to become.