The Fifth Transformational Truth:
I Cultivate Compassion for Myself
I am committed to a vow I took many years ago. It’s a self-made promise to live more gently with myself; to be as kind to myself as I try to be to others; to befriend myself.
In her wonderfully supportive book, The Courage to Be Yourself, my dear friend and mentor, Sue Patton Thoele, writes of “befriending” in this way. “I believe it is essential,” she says, “that you become a loving and tolerant friend to yourself. Do you act as a sheltering tree in your own life? Take a moment to think about how you treat your friends. Do you express the same kindness and consideration toward yourself? Many of us hold a deep-rooted belief that we don’t deserve to be loved. “They” deserve friendship, but for some unfathomable reason, we don’t. This is a false belief. We are worthy of love. We do deserve our own support and friendship.”
I admit, for most of my adult life I have been generally unkind to myself. I’ve pushed myself beyond healthful limits to be the perfect wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, employee, volunteer, community leader, and more. All roles I thought I should play in life to be a “good person,” to be liked and accepted by others, especially by my family, peers, and coworkers; to be perceived as successful, of service to others, and a contributor to the greater good of humanity. It appears that the majority of women get trapped in this pattern of behavior, too.
We can begin to be more kind to ourselves by making a decision to start befriending ourselves. Let’s make a vow, together, to be more gentle with ourselves. Let’s commit to treat ourselves as lovingly as we would our own best friend.
I’ve created a “Be Kind to Yourself” list of practices that can be hung on your refrigerator, the bathroom mirror, or your computer screen to remind you to treat yourself more lovingly, more gently, every single day. They’re practices that can nurture and balance you.
Honor your inner rhythm: Work when you feel like it, play or rest when you don’t.
Get out in nature: Allow its beauty and naturally calming effect to soothe you.
Nurture your body: Pamper it with massage, leisurely baths, aromatherapy, loving touch.
Eat healthfully: Consume as low on the food chain as possibly, especially fresh fruits and vegetables.
Move: Stretch, walk, exercise, dance, hike, do anything that rids your body of tension.
Soothe your mind: Turn off the TV, meditate, read inspirational literature, listen to music, engage in a hobby.
Laugh: Mingle with friends who inspire, relax, or rejuvenate you.
Breathe: Take time alone spent in quiet, breathe deeply and regularly, allowing your body’s inner reservoirs to be filled with calm.
Rest: A nap can be a sacred time, nourishing body, mind, and spirit simultaneously.
Connect: Plug in to the Divine as you understand it through meaningful spiritual practices of your own creation.
I hope that you’ll join me in renewed commitment to acts of personal lovingkindness. When we do, we’ll undoubtedly find ourselves being kinder to others, for self-compassion naturally breeds compassion for others. Self-love spawns love for our fellow human beings. Being kind to ourselves may just be the most loving thing we can do for everyone ...
Right now, in fact, I am headed off to a hot steaming tub for a good soak. I'll read for a bit, perhaps even take a nap. I've been "on the road" for a few days and will be heading out again soon, so I am renewing my vow by being extra kind to myself this weekend. How about you?
What can you do today, tomorrow, this weekend to renew YOUR vow to be kinder to yourself?
I'd love to hear ...
Leave your vow here as a comment on this post and you' ll be entered into the next drawing for a copy of Your Truest Self. It's still her birthday!
And Congratulations to Nadia, Happy Lotus, for being the winner of last weekend's book giveaway! Hooray!
(Images courtesy of http://www.telegraafhotel.com and http://itztours.com)