I showed up to yoga, stressed to the max with everything I had to do. I had talks to give, taxes to do, people to get back to, a book to complete, and a blog article to write. As my yoga instructor was guiding us through her sequence, I found myself cycling between feeling overwhelmed about how I was going get everything done, what I should write my blog article about, and trying to remind myself that I needed to be present.
When suddenly I had an epiphany.
I realized that with my crazy workload, that I was treating myself in the same way my parents treated me. Growing up the mantra was to work hard, and if you weren’t good enough, it was because you weren’t working hard enough. There was no room for taking a breath. There was no room for fun and play. There was no room for acceptance of myself just for being me. Nothing I did was ever enough.
But just because my parents instilled these workaholic, you-will-never-be-enough messages on to me, it didn’t mean that I had to continue to treat myself this way.
And so in the spirit of yoga, I asked myself, ”What is the most loving thing I can do for myself right now?”
Suddenly with this one question, everything shifted for me. I realized I need to infuse this question throughout my life. I realized that asking this question would help me say no to the things I did not want to do. Asking this one question would help me have more my balance in my life. Asking this one question would help me forgive myself when I do things I regret. Asking this one question would help me better recover from loss. This question is a profound expression of self-compassion.
There are many other benefits to self-compassion. An increasing body of research is showing that self-compassion foster’s mental health. When we realize we are all human, and thus will make mistakes and even fail, it becomes easier to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and get back on our feet again. So many of us beat ourselves up when we make mistakes or fail, and that only takes us into a downward spiral of self-loathing, and increases our stress. Alternatively, when we exercise self-compassion in those moments, we can focus on how to do better next time. Self compassion breeds resilience.
Self-compassion also helps us recover from loss. We might be good at being there for others when they experience loss, but struggle to do it for ourselves. Learning to treat ourselves as if we were our own best friend, will help us deal better with loss and move on.
My answer to this question was that I needed to limit the amount of time I spend on each task, and to make sure I prioritize my need for rest and renewal. Just by making this decision alone, I felt an enormous amount of relief! My new goal is not perfection with my work, but practicing self-compassion in the face of imperfection.
So in the spirit of the upcoming Valentine’s Day, I invite you to express love towards yourself by practicing self compassion. You can do this with one simple question sprinkled through the day. Make sure you have the question handy when you feel stressed, have experienced a loss, or feel inadequate.
The question is:
What is the most loving thing I can do for myself right now?
Has this question inspired any insights? How do you think it will change your life?
Please share in the comments below!
This post was written by Collective member Dr. Tina Huang of Lifelong EnerJoy. If you would like more support in expressing self-compassion, Tina has a relationship detox to empowerment program that might be a good fit for you. Learn more about it here and contact her here to schedule a complementary consultation.