Radical Compassion

Why can it so hard to give ourselves a break? To just be a bit nicer to ourselves when we’re struggling?

I was NOT feeling the gym yesterday. Luckily I was with M and he kind of led me around the weights while I fluttered about in a fog of monthly energy drain. He’s good that way. Usually, once I get going, I’m ok…not today. And my first thoughts?

‘What is wrong with me?”

‘Why can’t I just get on with it?’

‘I’m just being lazy.’

I mean I questioned and criticised the hell out of myself.

M was like…’but you DO know what’s going on. Why are you beating yourself up?’

Um…because it’s one of the things I do best, duh.

Many days, giving myself a break and a bit of compassion feels more out of my reach than running a marathon. Or running at all really. I mean, for me, it can be a radical act to just…let up.

I’ve spoken before about the stories we tell ourselves. The stories that are a part of our make up. Man are they strong. I mean…they are right down deep. And when I don’t feel right, I don’t seem to be strong enough to stop them rising up. It can take all my strength and energy to function and not crumble completely. That shit is exhausting.

We give other people a break all the time. More than we probably give ourselves. You know that saying, ‘treat others how you would like to be treated’? A better one for me should be, ‘treat yourself the way you treat others’. I deserve a break too. From myself.

Sometimes you don’t need to be positive about yourself. Sometimes you just need to be neutral. Just…it is what it is. And it’s no big thing. And there are things that help. And then draw a line under it. Sometimes you just need to manage it all.

Maybe I need to start with a grace period. Like, let’s just put a hold on these thoughts. Do some of the self care shit you know helps and revisit later on. Put an ’embargo’ on the negativity.

We all know that life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows and maybe trying to push to the very positive can actually do more damage. Maybe a better way is to take a breath and move away from the negativity into a more neutral space. Acknowledge, notice the causes, try to improve things where you can…move on.

Having a list of self care activities can be beyond useful when you don’t even have the will to think up what to do or what could help. Write that list out and put it somewhere you can easily see. Take the thought process out of it. Let it guide you. Keep it simple. I know our lives are super busy and we can’t all go take a 2 hour bubble bath. For me, letting TD have the iPad for a wee bit so I can just breath is an act of self care. Sometimes I just need to sit for a bit. Sometimes I need to get outside so we bundle up and head out. Sometimes I need to write it out. Sometimes I go to bed crazy early. I’m learning to let myself see that taking a breath let’s me move forward.

Take an outside perspective. Think about it from someone looking in. Or ask. Or let them help. I’ve really had to learn to rely on M to give it to me straight. I trust him. Its taken time but I do. He has my best interests at heart. He knows my goals and he knows when pushing through isn’t the way forward. He also knows that the voice in my head can be a mega bitch and is a hard one to fight. He can see the panic in my eyes and know the pressure sitting in my chest. Sometimes I can’t get out from under it so I let in him to set me straight.

Get curious about what’s going on. Get curious in a way that is non-judgemental. What’s going on? What could be causing the low? I know mine are very closely tied to my cycle. I can be fighting for half the month against a hormone storm and energy ebb. It’s brutal. It’s frustrating. There are definitely things I can do to help. But there is a lot I have no control over. I need to let that blame go.

Let go of expectations. Let go of how you should be feeling or what you should be doing. Let go of your to-do lists and let go of some of the plans you’ve made. This is something I find really hard to do. I struggle to do this as it can make me feel like I’m failing at life. But I need to keep the bigger picture in mind. If I can ease off my expectations for a wee bit then I can build up my energy stores. What needs to be done and what can wait?

Give yourself some peace. It can feel wild and radical to do so. But it’s something I’m slowly learning to do. And it helps lighten the load. It allows for some breathing space. Some lightness. It can be a switch between drowning in self criticism or just allowing yourself to be. I’m going to print my own list out and try to remember my own advice when things get tough.

Here’s to allowing ourselves some well deserved compassion. Here’s to a serving of that kindness we dole out to others.

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