This musing has been a hard one to write. I'm not sure why. I came up with the topic of being gentle with yourself about July or August of 2013. I started it a number of different times and never went anywhere with it.
I want to write about this because it is something I am trying to work on in my life. All signs lead the way. For example when working with a meditation teacher she said, "Well Christel it sounds as if you have the technique portion figured out. Now can you be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to do it without being critical." Immediately my head said, "NO!". What?!? What kind of answer is that?! I was a bit startled, look her straight in the eyes and started to have tears silently stream down my face.
It's not that I don't try. I do. I tell myself all the time. And yet I end up beating myself up. Or berating myself for not being able to get through teaching a class without verbally messing up at least 10 times. For weighing more now then I have in probably about 15 years. For crashing my bike because I was moving too fast and trying to do more then one thing. Oh, and then getting back on my bike and racing to teach a class, and teaching a whole class on a SPRAINED wrist!!! Doh!
Part of me was/is trying to let go and just roll with these things. And then there is this hypercritical voice telling me how stupid I am.
How do we move past that critical voice? I don't know that I have the definitive answer, but here are a few things I have been working with that seem to be helping.
1) A picture. Specifically of you when you were a baby or a child. Seriously! Have a baby picture of yourself and every time you start to raise that proverbial fist - pull that picture out. Would you berate that beautiful baby/child? No! So why are you doing it now? You are one in the same person.
2) Treat yourself like your friend. If a good friend were beating him/herself up because they had an extra 10 pounds would you say "Yeah, you look fat these days." If they mispronounce a word would you say, "You were so stupid to say that." Etc… Heck no! You wouldn't be so harsh to your friends so why in the world would you speak to yourself that way. General rule: If you wouldn't say that to a friend you are not allowed to say it to yourself.
3) The breath. Always! For everything. But in this case when you get upset with yourself….STOP… take 3 deep breaths…. let it go.
4) A mantra. My personal mantra right now is "You are beautiful" on the inhale and "You deserve to be loved" on the exhale. For me - those are 2 things I do not truly believe and hope that by repeating them I will open up to that mentality.
I've been saying it in classes lately, but it's all about self-love. If you don't love yourself:
A) You can't fully love anyone else.
B) Others can't fully love you.
Or maybe better put: Imagine how much better the love you have and the love you give will be when you truly love yourself.
So I am writing this with a picture of a beautiful young girl sitting in her grandfather's lap. Were she here right now, I would tell her how beautiful she is. I would remind her that her "flaws" will be her greatest gifts. Because it is through those she will grow and become a more compassionate person. I would tell her that she can be either her greatest foe or her greatest friend - so choose wisely. Oh wait, she is right her.
Can you do the same for yourself?!?
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
"No one is perfect. Accept yourself as you are, complete with all your flaws, and just do the best you can. When you make a mistake or when things don't go your way, pause and see if you can identify the lesson in the experience. Take in that lesson and move on. Don't get stuck forever in "Would'a Could'a Should'a" thinking. Be gentle with yourself today and every day and give yourself lots of credit for what you've already accomplished and lots of hope for everything that's to come."