Book: 12 Rules for Life. #2 – Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping

The Goal of This Post

This post is a synthesis from the book 12 Rules for Life, by Jordan Peterson.
The author shares a series of powerful guidelines, virtues and rules to help take control and responsibility for your life.

If You Only Takeway One Thing

“The foremost rule is that you must take responsibility for your own life. Period.” – Jordan Peterson

Post Outline

The main ideas we’ll explore in this post:

  1. The Root of Self-Contempt
  2. The Implication
  3. The Way Forward

About this Rule

Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.
The author describes the common scenario where individuals often fail to take care of themselves, while displaying an effective care for the state of others; be them their friends, family, strangers or pets.

Somewhere along the lines, the author describes this to be rooted in a deep lack of self appreciation or feeling that we are underserving; which leads to self punishment. The central thesis is that life is difficult, and we should strive to be kinder to ourselves, and treat ourselves with the respect that we deserve.

People are better at filling and properly administering prescription medication to their pets than to themselves.

The Root of Self-Contempt

“All the reasons we have discussed so far for taking a dim view of humanity are applicable to others, as much as to the self. They’re generalizations of human nature; nothing more specific. But you know so much about yourself. You’re bad enough, as other people know you. But only you know the full range of your secret transgressions, insufficiencies and inadequacies. No one is more familiar than you with all the ways you mind and body are flawed. No one has more reason to hold you in contempt, to see you as pathetic – and by withholding something that might do you good, you can punish yourself for all your failings. A dog, harmless, innocent, unselfconscious dog, is clearly more deserving.”

The Implication

“It seems that people often don’t really believe that they deserve the best care, personally speaking. They are excruciatingly aware of their own faults and inadequacies, real and exaggerated, and ashamed and doubtful of their own value. They believe that other people shouldn’t suffer, and they will work diligently and altruistically to help them alleviate it. They extend the same courtesy even to the animals they are acquainted with – but not so easily to themselves.”

The Way Forward

(1) Sympathy.
“Humanity, in toto, and those who compose it as identifiable people deserve some sympathy for the appalling burden under which the human individual genuinely staggers; some sympathy for subjugation to mortal vulnerability, tyranny of the state, and the depredations of nature. It is an existential situation that no mere animal encounters or endures… It is this sympathy that should be the proper medicament for self-conscious self-contempt.”

(2) Self-Respect
“We deserve some respect. You deserve some respect. You are important to other people, as much as to yourself. You have some vital role to play in the unfolding destiny of the world. You are, therefore, morally obliged to take care of yourself. You should take care of, help and be food to yourself the same way you would take care of, help and be good to someone you loved and valued. You may therefore have to conduct yourself habitually in a manner that allows you some respect for your own Being.”

(3) Self-Awareness.
“You need to know where you are, so you can start to chart your course. You need to know who you are, so that you understand your armament and bolster yourself in respect to your limitations.”

(4) Self-Direction.
“You need to know where you are going, so that you can limit the extent of chaos in your life, restructure order, and bring the divine force of Hope to bear on the world… You must determine where you are going, so that you can bargain for yourself, so that you don’t end up resentful, vengeful and cruel.”

(5) Self-Assessment.
“You have to articulate your own principles, so that you can defend yourself against others’ taking inappropriate advantage of you, and so that you are secure and safe while you work and play. You must discipline yourself carefully. You must keep the promises you make to yourself, and reward yourself, so that you can trust and motivate yourself. You need to determine how to act toward yourself so that you are the most likely to become and to stay a good person.”


Taking Action

“Don’t underestimate the power of vision and direction. These are irresistible forces, able to transform what might appear to be unconquerable obstacles into traversable pathways and expanding opportunities. Strengthen the individual. Start with yourself. Take care with yourself. Define who you are. Refine your personality. Choose your destination and articulate your Being.”


The book focuses on the virtues that empower an individual to take responsibility for themselves and live a more plentiful and happy life. All content credit goes to the author. I’ve shared the bits I’ve enjoyed the most and found most useful.

Cheers ’till next time! Saludos!
Alberto

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