Growing up I was often inspired by my parent’s generosity towards those less fortunate. They would write checks to causes, donate household items, handout food to the homeless, sponsor foster kids to attend community events and encourage us to do the same. They also modeled an altruistic spirit, often remarking after observing unsavory behavior, “Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. We don’t know what it’s like to walk in their shoes and have no idea what their family may be going through.” Yet today as an adult, I wonder how my parents could be so compassionate towards others … yet so hard on themselves.
This memory flooded back to me this morning. I haven’t slept through the night for over a week (my sweet body is clearly going through some big hormonal shifts in spite of all the self-nurturing I’m doing). I’m severely sleep deprived and am at about 40% of my normal capacity. Last week I delivered a presentation, stumbled through some contract deadlines, handled a media interview and attempted to guide my team on some critical decisions. “Good is good enough” was my mantra and I had to become comfortable with the fact that not only was I not “on,” I was barely functioning.
But my Wise Self (the part of me that can discern what’s really “true”) sees that this is temporary, this period will pass and very few humans can deliver their best on four hours of sleep a night. So, I’m giving myself a break, making self-renewal a priority and going with the flow. I’m trusting that those things that are most important will make themselves known. And I know that when I’m back in my groove, I’ll easily find my footing and be able to tap my normally robust, high energy supply to accomplish what’s essential.
Wondering how I got to the place where I can cut myself slack and not feel guilt, despite my parent’s self-judgment?
It came from my deep commitment to self-care (read more), my ability to let go and my understanding that sometimes my perspective is skewed (which is often the case for many of us if we just stepped back to take in the bigger picture).
In the spirit of my sweet parents, Kit and Julie, I’m sending out waves of self-compassion to all of you. Perhaps it’s time for you to give yourself a break around your parenting or relationship skills, work performance, household management, financial prowess or whatever else you’ve been beating yourself up about. Cruelty to ourselves is not something we want to model or perpetuate. Taking a kinder, gentler approach towards ourselves is not only more effective, more humane and kinder, it’s our innate birthright.
I challenge you this week to find three instances where you can, “Give yourself a break,” and see how it feels. I’d love to hear how it goes; please share your stories on Live Inside Out.
INVITE: Ready to stop beating yourself up and become your own best friend? Give yourself the gift of a weekend with like minded women, receive high level support and learn the art of self-renewal; here’s my 2014 retreat schedule (and kudos to all the great guys who have been signing their girlfriends, moms and partners up for our retreats–truly original and life-changing birthday and Mother’s Day gifts!).
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by work-life balance speaker/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 12 year-old son. More on her background here.
Photo: A baby hedgehog, one of my son’s favorite animals. Ever wonder if animals are self-critical? I think not.