“Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.” Max Ehrmann
There’s a great deal of vulnerability that comes with loving kindness. Being kind to others requires that we practice a general empathy and compassion for the others’ past experience and current state of mind. It’s so much easier to be loving and kind to others than to myself.
When I find myself in a pattern of self defeating behavior, I easily pick up the Bludgeon of Should and beat myself about the head and shoulders. “I shouldn’t have________” or “I know better than this!” I don’t automatically practice self compassion or empathy. Nope. I go to self deprecation, feeding the shame that fed the self defeating behavior. It’s a downward shame spiral that ends with a real good case of the “F**k its”.
Here’s an example: I’ll make good food choices for a whole day – a WHOLE DAY! and then reward myself with an ice cream sundae large enough to feed downtown Atlanta.
Heaving out the Should Bludgeon, “I’ll never be able to take off this weight. It’s going to take at least 20 weeks and I can’t go more than 3 days. Why bother? F**k it.”
If I was talking to a friend, I would say, “Hey, don’t be so hard on your self. You’ll do better tomorrow. It’s going to be ok.” or “You look great. You don’t need to loose any weight.” So. Much. Easier. To show loving kindness to a friend.
Why is it so hard to demonstrate this same loving kindness to ourselves?
I don’t know. But I do know that the Should Bludgeon isn’t effective.
Just For Today
I’m going to step away from the Should Bludgeon and practice some loving kindness for myself. I will choose to nurture my body and my spirit. I will be kind. When I notice the negative self talk or shame creeping in, I will ask God for help.
God, take away the shame that fuels my self defeating behavior. Help me recognize when it comes up. Remind me that you can and will relieve me of the shame and all the “shoulds” that go along with it.