Rule 2 / Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping
Peterson begins with a conundrum. Why don’t sick people take their medication? He quotes statistics that show two-thirds of people don’t take the medication that doctors prescribe for them. Either they don’t get the prescription filled, or if they do, they miss doses, don’t finish the course or don’t even start. Yet, if they are prescribed medication for their pet, they are much more likely to properly administer the medication. We care more about our pets than ourselves.
Peterson explains this as our disgust with the depravity that we know, not only exists in humankind, but also within ourselves. People are capable of inflicting pain on others for no other reason than to hurt them. We don’t see this in the animal kingdom. Certainly, they attack each other as a food source or to protect their territory but they don’t inflict needless suffering. Meanwhile, people have invented ways of making people physically suffer. We also know how to make people suffer daily with cutting words and insensitive remarks. Peterson believes it’s for this reason many are doubtful of their value and feel they don’t deserve to be taken care of. Even though, they will work to alleviate the pain of others. People are strange paradoxes! Peterson encourages us to treat ourselves the way we would treat someone we care about.
Again, Peterson overlooks the fact that we don’t lack instruction. Knowing we should take better care of ourselves won’t change our behaviour until we can accept and forgive ourselves. Is it possible to overcome guilt and cultivate the self-care attitude that Peterson exhorts us to have without God’s help?
From a Christian perspective, God wants us to take our medication and look after ourselves. Jesus teaches us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” The implication being we are to love ourselves and do good, not harm, to ourselves. God also wants us to know our value. He sent Jesus to die for us, knowing our depravity, but also knowing we were worth dying for. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, God created a way so he could forgive and accept us and so we could forgive and accept ourselves. From a place of healthy self-esteem, we can reach out to others.
My take on Peterson’s 3rd Rule of Life will be in two weeks time.
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