Welcome to Self-care Week 2020!
At its heart, self-care is so much deeper than having a bath with scented candles or a day of retail therapy (although there is a place for those too!) For lasting habits of self-care, I believe we need to cultivate self-compassion and self-forgiveness, which is not at all easy.
For me personally, and I know for many others, it is much easier to forgive other people and to be kind and caring towards other people than towards myself. The voice of the self-critic is much harsher than the voice I use to other people.
Every day this week, I invite you to spend a couple of minutes with each of the quotations below, and see if you can learn to be a little, just a little, kinder to yourself each day this week.
These phrases from the Metta (loving-kindness) meditation tradition are lovely because they get around the subconscious mind. They are phrased as a wish, or a choice, rather than a statement of how things are. By saying ‘may I be peaceful’, we can gently encourage ourselves to feel into that sensation rather than saying ‘I am peaceful’, which simply brings up a lot of subconscious resistance such as ‘NO! I’m not! I’m stressed and anxious and frustrated and I have xyz problems!’ When we wish ourselves well, we create the opportunity to inhabit those feelings.
Think for a moment about some of your self-critical statements. For me, it’s often: ‘I should have tried harder. I didn’t do that well enough.’ Would you ever criticize someone else for the same things that you criticize yourself for? Wouldn’t you more often understand that they had tried their best with the skills and abilities and knowledge that they had at the time? See today if you can offer yourself a little of the same understanding and go easy on yourself. Imagine you are talking to yourself as you would your dearest friend or loved one.
This quotation brings to light the games that our minds play with us. When we see how we unconsciously go round and round in illogical circles of self-blame, it is easier to step out of it and see with clear eyes. Of course it is ridiculous to beat ourselves up. If we did something wrong or made a poor choice, we can simply choose to try and do something differently next time.
Kristin Neff offers us this statement to use when we notice that we are in a moment of suffering. If you are already feeling sad, anxious, or angry, you are already suffering. Don’t add to that suffering by criticizing yourself as well. Just for this moment, be kind to yourself. Imagine giving yourself a hug and a kind word.
The importance of rest and sleep cannot be overestimated. This ancient quotation reminds us that it is better to have only a few material possessions and be able to rest and be at peace than to have a lot of stuff if we are overworked and stressed. What work could you leave undone today in order to give yourself a little extra rest, a few minutes’ meditation or another half hour of sleep?
Most of us do the best we can with the tools, knowledge and skills that we have at that time. It is all too easy to look back with greater knowledge, awareness and life experience and say ‘I shouldn’t have done it like that, I should have known better.’ Maya Angelou invites you to give yourself a break and acknowledge that you really did do the best you could.
Forgiveness really is a choice. It may not happen instantaneously, but once we make the choice to begin to forgive ourselves, and hold that intention, we see how much love we have withheld from ourselves. Just for today, seed the choice in your heart: ‘I choose to begin to forgive myself.’
I hope you enjoy this week’s set of quotations. EFT is a wonderful tool to help us remove blocks and obstacles to self-compassion and self-forgiveness, and to root out unhelpful beliefs about ourselves that were formed in the past. If you’d like to arrange a free 20 minute chat about how I could help you use EFT for this, I’d love to talk with you!