How are you today?
Yesterday was an awful day for me. Not because there was a threat to health, or anything serious, but simply because of how I felt in myself. I couldn’t get myself to being productive in any way that I saw as valuable. It was excruciatingly frustrating and I was letting myself down with self-sabotage at every turn.
Not only does it feel really awful inside but its easy to compound it by telling ourselves all kinds of hurtful comments in an attempt to galvanise some kind of action. But I know now, that simply doesn't help or work.
Whilst it feels insane to offer myself any sympathy in moments that are hard as a result of my own creation, I have learned that caring for myself is the ONLY way I can live more peacefully in this life. What’s more, it impacts my other relationships in a positive way too.
At 5pm I took myself out at a pace, into the country lanes where I live, and then slowed to a dawdle and picked the last of the blackberries for the season. This holds me like nothing else. I’m in nature, I’m on the land, standing at the edge of the briar revelling in an unexpected break in the clouds. I felt my breath and I knew I was alive. Whether I’m experiencing life as pleasurable or unpleasant, I am alive and somehow my presence matters.
I told myself “I forgive you, everyone finds it hard to work alone sometimes, to be disciplined and organised, it’s okay, it’s really okay”. I let myself go on a bit...
"I know you feel bad, I know you feel you've let yourself down but I'm not deserting you, I understand how rubbish you feel and I KNOW how much worse it is when you give yourself such a hard time about it. You're here, you're alive and it matters that you're here"
I also gave myself space as I walked to ask what might help me moving forward and I had a few ideas and realisations. That's the thing about compassion for ourselves, people don't do it because they think its an excuse to engage in indulgent behaviours, but actually research shows that people who are self-compassionate take an interest in how they can better care for themselves.
This kindness to myself enabled me to return home, make tea and converse with my family in a way that was more open to them. In years gone by, I’d be spikey with them simply because I was being so dismissive and angry with myself for my own shortfalls. I was never aware of that until I embarked upon a more compassionate based mindfulness practice that strengthened a more loving self-to-self relationship.
I encourage everyone in our community of mindful friends to talk to themselves as I encourage you. Try addressing yourself as 'you' instead of 'I' and also use your own name to speak to yourself too.
The invitation is to play with this and just notice how it feels for you. It might feel weird, mechanical or simply 'wrong' to begin with, but if the intention is one of genuine care, given time, you will begin to fire new neural connections in the brain and the more we practise, the more that pathway becomes a new way forward. You will ultimately feel the relief of kind holding and know it's what you've been missing all of your life.
The other important thing to remember is that everything passes, nothing ever really stays the same, moods change like the weather. That can really help us when we're feeling uncomfortable and it can also help us to savour and be really alive and present in the moments which are pleasant and joy filled.
Life is a bag of crap days, good days and all the rest in-between. It is never anything else. It's never about how well you keep your head above the water, its about how willingly and tenderly you are prepared to walk with yourself through the shadows on those dark days. That's what will get us through.
Warmly as always,