Here is a question for you – how much self-care and self-compassion do you practice? Are you as nice to yourself as you are to your friends and family? Do you hold yourself to harsher, higher standards? Are those standards realistically achievable? Do you automatically assume/accept fault and blame when something goes wrong?
I have been considering this quite a bit lately, because I ‘may’ have been accused of being “too hard” on myself. Really? The thing is, two of my core beliefs are that I can do anything if I try hard enough, and I should always do my best. Even when I think I have tried as hard as I can, and did my best; there is a little voice that whispers “was it really? Really your best effort? Really as hard as you could have tried?” I freely judge myself, criticize, and berate myself – and never, ever could I be as harsh to another person. I am programmed to believe that even my very best could always be better, and I can’t trust other people to hold me to high enough standards or accountability. Would I do that to my husband, kids, family, or friends? Absolutely not! Why? Because I love them, and I see how hard they try, and how much they have accomplished.
I don’t practice what I preach or believe. I believe that God made each of us unique, with gifts and talents specifically given to meet the needs we will each encounter. Fully employing these gifts will bless us as richly as we will bless others when we use them (the gifts). God made each of us “enough” – just as we are. Why is that so hard to accept? What if, just for a couple days, we treated ourselves like we treat other people – believed in our inherent goodness, that our gifts were good enough to share, that our best efforts were just that? Are you afraid, like I am, that I will get lazy about things or stop trying to do my best? I am considering the notion that maybe by taking the pressure off myself, and relaxing a bit, I might actually give myself some growing room.
I know and have seen evidence that you can’t care for others unless you first care for yourself. That is Caregiver Rule #1. At least, I believe that is true for other people. I also believe that if you want other people to like you, you need to like yourself – at least a little. At least, I believe that is true for other people. Same with respect…
A couple weeks ago, a friend suggested that I change the way I look at my running practice. I went from making my running and workouts a “first thing” of the day to a treat for me if I was “good”. Yeah, that crashed and burned – and she was perceptive enough to zero in on that. She even had the nerve – the very nerve – to suggest that I nail my runs and workouts to benefit me first! Something about deserving to feel good….or some such nonsense. This kind of friend is a rare and special treasure, by the way. If you have one, you know what I mean. Not afraid to piss you off when the need arises. I am also fortunate to have someone that asks hard questions – not like the egg and chicken/which came first kind of questions, but the questions that make you look really hard and deep at yourself. Find yourself someone like that – bless yourself – you deserve it!
So I think my challenge for a while will be to try and judge myself less, explore the idea that I am enough, and let go of some control. Realize that everything is not my “fault”, and let go of perfection. I’m not really sure how to start, or how to plan this journey…but maybe that IS the first step. We’ll make this a leap of faith – want to join me?