"We deserve some respect. You deserve some respect. You are important to other people, as much as to yourself. You are, therefore, morally obliged to take care of yourself." (62)
The second Rule of Life from Dr. Peterson is titled "Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping." Now, to be honest, this chapter took a bit to get in to. It seems like there is a big digression from the original point, but Dr. Peterson ties it all back together in a nice bow to help get the full impact.
Your Pet is Healthier Than You
Think back to the last time you were given a prescription - whether it was for medicine to take daily, a diet to switch to, or healthy habits to start. Looking back to this time, how did you do? Did you stick to it? Did you come out the other side having completed all that was asked? It would not be surprising if you said no. Many people fail to keep up a habit or task they are assigned to them in situations like that. Taking medicine every day for an ear infection for 2 weeks? Well after 1 week I feel fine, so I'm going to stop.
Now think about a time when you were responsible for someone/something that then had a similar task. Say your dog needed to take medicine for 2 weeks - how did that go? You probably made sure at all costs that the dog got his/her medicine every day, didn't you?
Why is that? Why did you make sure that your pet got their medicine daily but when it came to you, you failed?
That is the question that lingers throughout Rule 2. Dr. Peterson takes us all the way back to Genesis, Adam and Eve, and God to tell us why that is and what caused us to act this way. He sums it up nicely by saying that people "shoulder intolerable burdens of self-disgust, self-contempt, shame and self conscious" and that "they are excruciatingly aware of their won faults and inadequacies, real and exaggerated, and ashamed and doubtful of their own value. They [people] believe that other people shouldn't suffer, and they will work diligently and altruistically to help them alleviate it" (59).
A Plan for Self Authoring
Dr. Peterson's for this fault is fairly simple - "to treat yourself as if you were someone you are responsible for help is... to consider what would be truly good for you" (62). Yes, I know that is a loaded statement - how do you know what is truly good for you? Dr. Peterson says it does not "what would make you happy" or "what you want" (62), but that you need to look to the future, thinking about it, and ask yourself questions:
- "What might my life look like if I were caring for myself properly?"
- "What career would challenge me and render me productive and helpful?"
- "What should I be doing when I have some freedom, to improve my health, expand my knowledge, and strengthen my body?"
Those questions do not have easy answers - it will take time, introspection, and reflection.
Dr. Peterson knows all this, so (surprisingly not mentioned in the book), he has a product for that called Self Authoring. Self Authoring is an online tool where you go through steps of answering these questions and more.
"People who spend time writing carefully about themselves become happier, less anxious and depressed and physically healthier. They become more productive, persistent and engaged in life. This is because thinking about where you came from, who you are and where you are going helps you chart a simpler and more rewarding path through life."
If you are interested in answering these questions and learning more about yourself and what "would be truly good for you", I would recommend checking it out.
Post inspired by 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson.