Imagine that a friend comes to you with her challenge of balancing work and family. You ask her how she is and she says to you:
“My daughter has been sick and I had to take a day off work, I’m actully a bit worried that my boss will think I’m taking the piss. I feel like I’m letting the team down, and not pulling my weight. I sent her to daycare today, and I really hope she’s well enough. Maybe I should have stayed home, good grief! I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing!”
What would you say to her? You’d probably say something like,
“Aww! You poor thing, you’re having a tough time. It’s stressful when the kids are sick. I am sure your boss knows you had to look after her and you’re not taking the piss. You’re a great mum. Give yourself a break, you’re doing the best you can.”
In other words, you would be kind. Supportive. Caring. Compassionate.
Now the big question I have to ask you is: why can we say these things to our friends but when we find ourselves in the middle of this story we are nothing but critical? We say things to ourselves that we would never say to a friend in a million years.
Maybe it’s time we give ourselves a break. Treat ourselves to some of that kindness, care and compassion that we usually save for others.
A couple of times I’ve stopped myself in the midst of worried, negative self-talk and just said, “You poor thing, it is really tough”. I must admit it gave me an internal giggle, but it also stopped that self-talk spiral from getting out of hand. Give it a try. Even having a giggle with yourself is a good step in the right direction.
Now you’re if you’re ready for some homework, try this:
Sit or lie comfortably. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Now say to yourself, “May I be safe, may I be healthy, may I be peaceful, may I live with ease.”
These are the kids of hopes and wishes we have for our loved ones, our children, parents, partners. So wish these things for yourself.
Dr Stan Steindl, clinical psychologist, initiator of the annual UQ Compassion Symposium, co-founder of the Compassion Initiative and my big bro says…
“You’re great at offering compassion to others. Widen your circle of good will and compassion to also include yourself! You can treat yourself just like you would treat someone you truly love. Give it a try. We all suffer in one way or another, and we are all deserving of our own love and compassion.”