Ever notice when you’ve moved into a place where you see everything that’s not working, rather than everything that is?
Last week I was here. Then, I paused. I stepped onto my back porch to look at the trees and drink in the reminder that I’m going through numerous big life transitions right now and tomorrow everything will look different.
One time when I was leading a retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Wellness in the Berkshire Mountains, a beautiful mother from Amsterdam shared with our circle of women 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 did this exercise at our recent REBIRTH Women’s Retreat, available for download today.)
2. Take a 30,000 foot view and find perspective. We’re all juggling so much: fallout from the pandemic, divorces, health challenges, 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 how much we’re juggling.
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.” The same goes for coworkers.
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:
- I’m booking 2021-2022 workshops and presentations now (only a couple of spots left for 2021): Consider hiring me to create an online balanced living experience to help your team, organization or employees feel less stressed and more resilient, creative and focused. For 20+ years I’ve been working with companies/organizations like Women in Conservation, Merrill Lynch, Women in Technology, the Center for Women in Law, the Hewlett Foundation and more. Whether it’s a workshop, keynote or custom retreat via Zoom, I’d love to discuss how I can support your team or organization. Learn more here.
- Two opportunities for self-care support: REBIRTH: A Soulful Self-Renewal Retreat is now available for download (only $59). Learn more. On May 7th from 4-5:30 p.m. I’ll be offering a Rest & Renew Deep Relaxation Yoga Nidra Session in Western North Carolina (this is a community offering). Learn more/register.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, AARP, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 400 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead self-renewal groups for women based on her pioneering work. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life. She and her husband live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Austin, Texas and are enjoying a new empty nest. More on Renee here.