Ever notice when you’ve moved into a place where you see everything that’s not working, rather than everything that is?
Yesterday I found myself in this space. I paused. Then, I stepped on to my back porch to enjoy a tall glass of self-compassion and drink in the reminder that I’m going through numerous big life transitions right now and tomorrow is a new day.
One time when I was leading a retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Wellness in the Berkshire Mountains, a dear woman from Amsterdam shared with our women’s group that her three-year-old daughter calls herself “little sweetie.” The mom remarked, “I often hear her my daughter roaming around the house saying …it’s ok little sweetie, you’re tired, you need a nap …it’s ok, little sweetie, you’re hungry and need some strawberries. Or to her mom, “little sweetie is sad, she needs a hug.” This mother’s young daughter simply knows no other way than to treat herself with loving kindness; she hadn’t been taught there was any reason she shouldn’t. (She inspired the rest of us to refer to ourselves as “little sweetie” for the duration of the retreat!)
I wonder what our culture might be like if we taught self-compassion as a sought after skill to be developed and honed–as equally valued as hard work and perseverance. Can you imagine hearing teachers and other influential mentors regularly remind their students and peers, “Be gentle with yourself” …?
How do you begin to cultivate self-compassion? Here are some ideas that help me:
1. Find and post a picture of yourself between ages 3-5 and see how this perspective shifts your ability to be easy on yourself; you’re still that same little person! (This is little Renee, above, at age four; we’ll be using these photos at our upcoming Sunday retreat.)
2. Take a 30,000 foot view and find perspective. We’re all juggling so much: divorces, illnesses, parenting woes, career/life changes, work upheaval–give yourself a break. You have a lot going on and are doing the best you can. Sometimes we lose sight of all we’re navigating.
3. Reach out for support: have a heart-to-heart with a dear friend who holds the highest and best for you. A kind conversation can really help us loosen our hold on what’s “right or wrong” and help us see things with softer, gentler eyes.
4. Practice modeling this for your children, friends and coworkers: if you’re a parent, instilling in your children the value of being kind to themselves can help them develop strong self-esteem, lower stress and heighten resiliency. Let them hear, “I had a challenging day, I’m doing the best I can.” Same goes for your friends at work.
Often when I’m being hard on myself, I will take a long, slow deep breath, place my hands over the center of my chest and invite in self-compassion. When I can remember to soften and open my heart, it helps me see others in a whole new light. Compassion for others starts with compassion for myself.
SEEKING SUPPORT FOR YOURSELF OR YOUR TEAM? HERE ARE TWO OPPORTUNITIES:
- *Two spots left!!* Sept. 27th, 1-4 p.m. CST~ REVERENCE: Spiritual and Soul-Lifting Practices to Nourish & Sustain ~ a women’s online virtual retreat. Learn more and register here. I’m limiting the size of this retreat for an enhanced experience. Some of it will be online/some offline!
- Online Retreat and Custom Workshops! Consider hiring me to create an online experience to help your team, organization or employees feel less stressed and more resilient, creative and focused. For 20+ years I’ve been coaching professionals worldwide on how to find balance through practicing the art/science of self-care. Whether it’s a workshop, keynote or mini-retreat via Zoom, I’d love to discuss how I can support your organization. Learn more here.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/author/speaker Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art and science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 400 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead life coaching groups and women’s retreats based on her work. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 18-year-old son. More on Renee here.