Liking Yourself


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“That which we are, we are…” – Lord Tennyson Alfred

I came across this article in a very old dusty book this morning and had to post it. It was written by John Steinbeck, but I have no idea when it was written. Irregardless it’s a good one.

Once a friend of mine named Ed said to me, “For a very long time I didn’t like myself.” It was not said in self-pity but simply as an unfortunate fact. “It was a very difficult time,” he said, “and very painful. I did not like myself for a number of reasons, some of them valid and some of them pure fancy. I would hate to have to go back to that.”

“Then gradually,” he said, “I discovered with surprise and pleasure that a number of people did like me. And I thought, If they can like me, why can’t I like myself? Just thinking it did not do it, but slowly I learned to like myself and then it was all right.”

This was not said in self-love in its bad connotation but in self-knowledge. He meant literally that he had learned to accept and like the person Ed as he liked other people. It gave him a great advantage. Most people do not like themselves at all. The distrust themselves, put on masks and pomposities. They quarrel and boast and pretend and are jealous because they do not like themselves. But mostly they do not even know themselves well enough to form a true liking, and since we automatically fear and dislike strangers, we fear and dislike our stranger-selves.

Once Ed was able to like himself he was released from the secret prison of self-contempt.

I wish we could all be so. If we could learn to like ourselves even a little, maybe our cruelties and angers might melt away. Maybe we would not have to hurt another to keep our ego chins above water.”

Make each moment count double,

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2 comments… add one
  • Jeffrey L. Salisbury Link

    I have the same “dusty old book” too… “The Best of Words to Live By” editor by William Nichols (1966) — My father gave it to me when I was in high school. My father’s favorite entry was pn page 47. It exemplified his life.

  • Hi, Jeffrey –

    I’ve kept the book close to me since coming across it. I still can’t find out any info about it, though – the title page is missing and the cover’s clueless.

    At least each “article” comes complete with its author.

    I can’t wait to open it up and see which one meant so much to your father.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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