Everyone seems to be talking about self-care these days.
Don't get me wrong. It's important. But self-care is not the magic potion it's made out to be.
~ Have you gone for a run, but all you could think about is what you should've said in that meeting?
~ Have you gotten a massage, but struggled to relax because you didn't shave your legs?
~ Have you gone away for the weekend, but felt like a bad parent for leaving your kids back home?
(Also, what happens after the run, or the massage, or the weekend away...when you walk right back into the situation that's been causing you stress...?)
Self-care is awesome...but as long as our brutal thoughts stay with us, it's not enough.
This is the (long-awaited) final entry in a five-part series about self-compassion.
It's been a while since I've posted (because so much awesome stuff has been happening).
You might remember that I tore my hip and spent the entire summer in PT.
When I was finally cleared to go back to yoga, I was about as flexible as the inflexible guy next to me. There were whole sections of class I couldn't do at all. I just stood there in mountain pose, wrestling with my thoughts.
Yay, self-care! I was at yoga!
But if I hadn't known how to be kind to myself, that first class would've been more frustrating than helpful - and I might never have gone back.
Instead, I made an effort to "acknowledge" and "validate" myself, like we talked about in part 3...and it worked.
"It makes sense that I'm not flexible right now. I haven't been to yoga in ages. Anyone who's just back after an injury would be limited in how much they could do." (Exhale.)
If you have a rough meeting at work, at the end of the day, you can go for a walk or sit in a bath, but as long as your thoughts are hard on yourself....
It's holiday party time. It can be difficult to turn down a delicious hors d'oeuvre. If you eat a few more bacon-wrapped dates than your calorie count allows, you can tell yourself you're a terrible fatso ~ or you can acknowledge that it's a tempting time of year and say "no" to the spinach dip.
It's time for big family dinners. No matter how much we've worked on ourselves over the year, it's tough not to be triggered by old family dynamics. If you make an exasperated remark to Aunt So-and-So, you can beat yourself up ~ or you can recognize that it's hard to be crowded in one house and that Aunt So-and-So knows exactly what to say to push your buttons.
(End of taking up space in your brain. Move on and enjoy the rest of the festivities.)
Self-compassion is not an excuse for bad behavior. It's a practice you can use to feel better and be more resilient.
Happy holidays! I hope this helps you move through this beautiful (and stressful) season with a little more kindness towards yourself.
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Sheila Devi is a Career & Executive Coach. As a Career Coach, she helps clients figure out their best next step. Her ultimate goal is to help clients create lives they love. Sheila works with people in a wide variety of industries, including accounting, health care, law, marketing, professional sports, and more. She works virtually with clients across the US, as well as in Canada and the UK.