We all know by now that gratitude improves our mental health and how we look at the world.
I’d also be willing to argue, self-compassion can go a long way in this direction, too. In order to change our self-view and how we look and interact with the world, extending the same kind of grace to ourselves as we extend to others is imperative.
An example from my own life:
Yesterday, I had a major anxiety attack. It was paralyzing. I couldn’t move myself to action yesterday morning.
Instead, my husband stepped up. I focused on caring for my own needs while he took care of the kids and home. (Side note: I recognize my blessing in this. Not everyone has this same level of support.)
Yesterday afternoon, I still managed to take my kids to our museum appointment, and I was as present as possible, making those core memories with my kids. What they didn’t see were the tears that I shed on the way there.
My husband helped with meals, and then went to work last night.
Things aren’t easy in our circumstances at times, but we get to decide how we respond to those things.
The negative thought cycle started yesterday: I should be doing better. I should be able to work through this. I should be getting out of bed and doing what everyone needs. I shouldn’t be having this level of anxiety.
This is where self-compassion comes in.
This is where caring for ourselves comes in.
This is where extending ourselves the same grace we extend others comes in.
This is where improving our self-talk comes in.
So, what does that mean. In this situation, this means to stop the thought track.
Is this thought true?
Would I say this to someone else in this same situation?
Have I been honoring my mind/body/spirit recently?
Can I give myself an hour or a day to feel this and then work past it?
Am I willing to reach out to my support system in this season?
This helps us stop the “shoulds” of our lives. This helps us show love and respect to ourselves. This helps us be able to care for ourselves as a human, not a machine. This validates our own feelings, and allows us to recognize feelings aren’t permanent. This gives us a chance to treat ourselves the way we’d treat others.
How do you treat your spouse? Your kids? Your best friend?
If we begin treating ourselves that way, we will find ourselves living in more peace, and how we view ourselves.
This is the same way we, as creators (I’m especially talking to my fellow creatives in the world), tend to be hard on our own craft in comparison to others.
We think everyone else is better at it than we are, and that we somehow deserve less. (This isn’t always the case, but I know many relate to this).
What if we looked at our art or writing or craft (or whatever), the way we look at someone else’s?
What if we responded to learning a new skill or honing our craft the same way we would anyone else learning in their craft?
What if we didn’t expect perfection from ourselves or hold ourselves to higher standards than our friends and colleagues?
When we begin to change the way we respond to ourselves and our shortcomings, we begin to accept our humanness and allow ourselves to mess up in a forward motion. We are able to change how we view ourselves and the world.
This will help us set better boundaries. It will increase our confidence. We begin to communicate assertively in the world. We are going to be able to engage from the most rounded versions of ourselves.
And, when we engage from the most well rounded version of ourselves, the grace we extend others flows from the same grace we extend to ourselves (and for those of us who are Christians, that directly extends from the grace we know God extends us).
So, what are some areas you need to show yourself compassion? How can you put this into practice today?