I see you. I hear you. You’re going to be ok. I’m proud of you. I love you.
For the longest time I was waiting for someone to speak words of kindness to me, someone besides the therapists I was paying, or the people in my twelve step meetings, or the coach I had hired, or the guided meditations I was listening to… Sometimes I’d speak with a friend on the phone, sometimes a family member, but there were many, many times when I wished for words of kindness but I found myself utterly alone. It finally dawned on me one day that I am the one I’ve been waiting for, and I could speak kindness to myself. I also discovered that self-love isn’t experienced at the level of the intellect; it must be felt. So I began imagining what it would feel like if I could really love, respect, and support myself. I began speaking words of kindness to myself, just to try it out, to hear myself being kind to myself. Slowly, s l o w l y over time I began to feel a change within me. Slowly I began giving myself the same kindness, care and concern I would offer to a good friend. Slowly I felt compassion for myself. Slowly self-love become real.
********************************** If you suffer from feelings of inadequacy, anxiety for the future, or the pain of unmet needs, I highly recommend checking out the work of self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff. Her site includes information about self-compassion and exercises to get you started with a self-compassion practice. There is also a self-compassion test so you can see where you fall on the self-compassion scale!
Even though in the past I interpreted challenges like these as evidence that I was somehow deficient, today I deeply love and accept myself and I am willing to see myself with the eyes of love. Even though I find myself uncertain of my future, my AC has gone belly up, and now the outlets powering my refrigerator and freezer are no longer working, today I deeply love and accept myself and I am wiling to see myself with the eyes of love. Even though I never thought I’d be here, never thought that at the age of 42 I’d struggle with anxiety and depression, wondering where I’ll live and how I’ll make ends meet for myself and my children, today I deeply love and accept myself and I am willing to see myself with the eyes of love. I am willing to change and grow. I am willing to learn new skills. I am willing to stand in my power. I am willing to shift this situation. Now, God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.
I got upset this morning, lost it with my kids, felt guilty and ashamed. I interpreted this event as a setback. I spent some time wallowing in shame, depression, the belief that I haven’t made any progress at all. Then I breathed. Then the wisdom came. I remembered that I’m human, I make mistakes, and now it’s time for a reset. So I chose for the day to go better from that point on. I’m going in to the kids’ classes for Valentine’s Day; I’m going to help the kids celebrate, make crafts, have fun. I tied up some loose ends at home, finished some projects that had been waiting. No more dwelling in upset, in setbacks. I’ve reset…now it’s time to keep moving forward.
The voice stayed with me when the clock struck midnight; it followed me into the new year. It was quiet for a few hours, letting me take in the new year… But now it is saying, already, You should be doing more. You need to make phone calls, you need to organize your house, you need to earn more, you need to plan for the future. You could end up on the street. You could lose everything. Hurry up! No time to lose! Now I want to know, whose voice is this? Of course I want to be responsible, of course I want to take action, of course I want to do the right thing. But I don’t need a tyrant telling me what to do. I don’t need a frightened, abused inmate pushing me to be afraid too. I’m ready for a new voice, one that says, Breathe. You’re doing just fine. Let’s try this now. You are not alone; I’ll be with you every step of the way. Everything is working out just fine. You are safe. You can trust me. I got you. I’m searching for that voice. I’m wanting to see what my life will be like when I listen to it and act from it. May the voice of kindness rise up within me, and may my ears and heart and mind be open to receive its wisdom.
and so much to do.
My mind keeps heckling me,
I need to do this and I need to do that…
but I’m so tired.
I’ve been up since 4:30 am,
going since then,
and my body just wants rest.
But how will I get it all done?
I tell myself I love myself no matter what.
I try to believe myself.
I take another breath.
I remember that it can’t all get done at once.
I take another breath.
I write this poem.
I’ll celebrate this win,
remind myself it will be ok.
I’ll breathe again,
and figure out what’s next.
When you think you should’ve done better,
be gentle; allow yourself to try again.
Yes, be honest with yourself
and make clear choices about the next time,
but still, be gentle.
Would you admonish a toddler
for not knowing how to sprint a marathon?