I spent many years focused on changing many parts of myself—my attitude, my will, or lack there of, my body, my sense of self-esteem, my overdoing in many categories of life, I could go on and on. I always thought that it was all my fault that I didn’t have it more together, wasn’t as successful as I wanted to be, wasn’t good enough. I was hard on myself, really hard on myself… and sometimes I still am.
Several years back I began to be more kind; I was always good to others, just not to me. One day, something sparked and a new way showed up, a totally new concept, being tender with myself, like the most loving and nurturing of parents would be with their beloved child. I began to cry. Me, I could receive this? I could be so kind and gentle and caring, to myself? I didn’t realize how much I had been longing, deeply longing, for this tenderness and true self-love.
It felt weird at first, hearing these nicer words, feeling more patient, gifting my body and mind with kind and healthy deeds. My heart began to stretch and open. Such a good thing, and unexpectedly it felt uncomfortable, a continuous dull poke as tension released; my heart and body had been so blocked before. I found myself shedding tears of sweetness, like when someone does something so very special for you and you can’t believe how lucky you are. My heart and mind were touched by this genuine kindness I was finding for myself, and my body was responding, transforming.
Soon, others were also being more respectful, more giving, more attentive. The care I was sharing with myself was effecting how I was being treated by others. I was experiencing the positive side of mirroring (mirror neurons triggering like-type feelings and behaviors in those we have our attention on and with). I knew much about this concept before but had only associated with it from the perspective of negative effects. How powerful and uplifting to realize that I could create positive outcomes in my relationships with others by treating myself well—an awesome added benefit.
Tenderness began to grow on me. I started to feel more comfortable with this way of being than I was with focusing my energy and attention on all the external problems and goals in my incessant need for approval—I was approving of myself. I found that I could be more successful in my work as well, with this softer, clearer attitude, and find humor in the process of learning through life’s bumps and humps versus cursing them at every dislodging; I felt safer with love for myself intact.
Today, this kinder way of being still asks for my discipline, the focus of my heart and mind, the act of nurturing myself. We live in a society that is driven by the outer effects and affects, by the pushing goals, the comparisons, the “keeping up with the Joneses.” It can happen in a flash, that old way of judging myself and soon I’ve been taken down like a black belt in karate; smooth, effortless, one perfect word or sentence and I’m face-planted, a not-good-enough again.
Eventually, when I notice how bad I’m feeling, how stressed I am, I remember to step off the treadmill, slow down, breathe and come back home to myself. I remember to make time for the care, for the connection, for the kindness. A warm bath, meditation of one kind or another, a good book with uplifting words and wisdom, candles, good smells, healthy food, a cup of tea or lemon water and soothing music, or soothing silence. Back on track, I can then review what is going “right”, what I have done well. And for me, when I feel a swell in my heart, a small tear rim my eye, I know I’ve re-connected with compassion, and all is well.
My 93 year-old grandmother is known to say, “Getting old ain’t for sissies.” I would say the same of learning to love ourselves and open to the good in life. This learning is for the strong of heart. Your growth and fulfillment beckons your courage and vulnerability, both, making you the most amazing kind of gentle warrior for doing the personal work and claiming the beautiful life that calls you.
If you’re willing, take a moment to feel proud of yourself for all you are doing. Notice if you can let yourself feel this self-care, this tenderness, this gentle softening inside yourself. If it’s a bit tough this time around, try again, and again, with a calm breath to your belly and another to your heart—I love you to your mind. It will get easier to let your caring and kindness touch you.
to Living Sensual!
Live in Love with Life