I've read that the best predictor for whether a relationship will last is whether scorn (or contempt) is present in any degree in how people treat one another.
The appearance of scorn in either party is a strong indicator that a relationship is doomed. It's hard to recover from a place where one (or both) people think the other is worthless, despicable, or someone less than they are.
It's a corrosive, demeaning attitude that poisons the way people see one another to the point that it's impossible to feel like the other person is worth our kindness, respect, or basic decency. With that lacking, how can we possibly work together in relationship?
As I look back on relationships in my past, I'd have to agree with this assessment. Any time scorn showed up (either in the other person or, alas, in myself), it was only a matter of time before things ended in ugliness.
Of course, the danger of scorn is bigger even than how we treat someone we are in relationship with. It affects how we view groups of people we disagree with, groups of people who are different from us in some way, and perhaps most importantly our relationship with ourselves.
We may not be able to divorce ourselves or otherwise leave our relationship with ourselves, but imagine just how much damage we do to ourselves when we turn this kind of attitude our own way.
When we allow ourselves to see ourselves as worthless or despicable in any way, it affects everything about how we treat ourselves and others.
How can I nurture myself for optimal health and growth when blasting myself with scorn?
How can I effectively negotiate healthy relationships with others when I see myself with contempt?
How can I possibly reach my maximum potential when I treat myself as worthless?
Neither can you.
We like to think that how we think about ourselves doesn't really matter. It's easy to pretend like it's something we can't help.
The truth is that our relationship with ourselves is the most important, most constant, and most inescapable relationship we have. The way we think about ourselves and treat ourselves affects every single thing about how we experience life, how we negotiate relationships with others, how we see the world, and the choices we make.
If scorn and contempt is toxic to relationships, imagine what living with that kind of toxic brew inside you aimed at yourself every minute of every day does to you and your ability to create a healthy life.
The way you think about yourself does matter. You are listening (whether you want to or not).
It's not easy to change those habits of thought patterns and the attitudes behind them, but it is possible.
It takes constant vigilance and practice. It requires awareness of your thought patterns and a relentless dedication to shift those thoughts in healthier directions.
It demands a deep commitment to change that will keep you pressing forward even in those moments when change seems impossible.
Scorn and contempt are toxic to you, to your relationships, and to the world at large. Anyone we dare to view as worthless is someone we begin to treat as sub-human, and that is a stepping stone to inhumane treatment of all kinds.
Don't let it gain a foothold in your life! And be willing to do whatever it takes to fight it off where it has crept in.
It's hard work, but you are worth it.
YOU are worth it.
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