I’M WRITING THIS ON my brand new MacBook Air, oh boy! While I claim to be the least materialistic person on the block, I’ve gotta say, on those rare occasions when I buy myself a nice little gift, I really appreciate it. I appreciate the kindness and thoughtfulness of myself.
Being kind to oneself is the subject of this post, but it isn’t about buying nice things to make ourselves feel better. That can be part of it, I suppose, but really, the idea for this post has been stewing for a while and came from looking at how I’ve been treating myself mentally.
In general, I’m pretty self-loving, but I am prone to beating myself up when I feel like I’m just not measuring up to my own expectations. I’ve noticed the behavior of late, and it occurs to me that I have been living my whole life in an almost constant state of pushing myself — hard, at times — and feeling like I’m never doing enough.
Does this happen to you? Do you feel inadequate, like you’ll never get to everything on your to-do list, and that by not accomplishing it all you’re somehow lazy, or at least not living up to your full potential? Honestly, I’ve felt like that for at least 45 years. I’m a little tired of it.
I’ve become extra conscious of how much I’m getting done since going on a reduced work schedule a little over 2 months ago. As I’ve talked about, I had a great fear of wasting my precious time. I saw this as an opportunity to do great things. People keep asking me what I’ve been doing with my extra time, and I have a hard time figuring out what to say. I’m keeping busy and having a good time, I’m pretty sure, but am unsure what I have to show for it. When I perceived that I was doing things not any greater than what I’d been doing before, I felt a little bad.
But I didn’t get stuck in the bad feeling. Instead, I did what I always do when I don’t like where my thoughts are taking me: I changed my mind. Yes, I think I’m falling in love with myself again.
I’d been thinking for a long time I need to get to the gym more often, do more yoga, eat better, shed those 5 extra pounds that came from god-knows-where…and it just wasn’t happening. I was feeling a kind of low-grade dissatisfaction with my exercise regimen and my body, until one day I entertained the idea, what if I just stopped feeling bad about any of this? What if I decide my body is fine, my nutrition is good enough, I’m exercising plenty?
I then realized I do this with my whole life: I’m not meditating or reading or cooking or socializing enough. I need to be a better activist, do more housework, or have more sex. What if I decide it’s all just fine?
And then I went to a teaching about compassion and got a good lesson: It all starts with self-compassion. If we don’t love ourselves, we cannot love anyone else. I was challenged to negate negativity, to just not go there. It sounds simple because it is. I’ve been trying it out for the past few days, and it’s been nice. I recommend it.
That’s not to say one shouldn’t have any goals, or that you should give up trying to live a healthy lifestyle. Do all of that, expend some effort, but don’t judge yourself harshly. Just try — I won’t even say “do your best” or “try hard”; no, just try. Stop being your own worst enemy. Love yourself. Your mind will thank you.