This week has been particularly challenging for a variety of reasons, both physically and emotionally. My friend has texted me every day to see how I am doing and to remind me to be kind to myself.
When I read her text yesterday and saw the “be kind” sentiment, I thought yeah, yeah, yeah… be kind… blech. Then I thought, “You say those words all the freakin’ time to your clients, but how can you be kind when you are feeling crappy?!”
After I texted my friend to thank her for the reminder, I thought about it more. Here are a few of those thoughts:
How sad is that!? But when I practice being kind to myself, my first reaction is a bit like:
“What is happening here?!” Followed by…“No, no, no, this is not right.” And then finally, “Oh yes, wow that feels good.”
It feels unnatural because we have been taught two truths:
Even writing those two lines makes me cringe, because even though they feel like truths, they are brutal lies.
You can sub in a number of words for productivity (e.g. beauty, shape, grades, job title, parenting), but no matter what word you choose, we have been sold the lie that our worthiness is linked to something and the only way to get that something is to be mean to ourselves.
It is those two beliefs that need to be changed. They are like knots that need to be loosened up so they aren’t so tight and controlling. And the only way to loosen those knots is to start noticing when they show up and be kind.
“Okay, so how do you loosen those knots, Nancy Jane?? You are the one who is always saying be kind to yourself!” says my Monger.
I know the more you are reminded to be kind to yourself, the more it will sink in (just like my friend texting it to me every day this week).
Which brings me to my next thought:
I realized this week that I have been practicing being kind for awhile. When I first started, I didn’t even know I had a kind voice. I didn’t think my Biggest Fan existed! I have cultivated her through practice, and yet, even now there are good weeks and bad weeks. There are days I excel at it and days I fail miserably. Some days it feels 100% natural and some days my Monger chimes in with, “Seriously, what is this hippy-dippy crap. Stop being such a wimp and get to work.” And even on those days, when my Monger is at her worst, I know my Biggest Fan isn’t gone—she’s just a little blocked by my Monger.
So what does that practice look like? How do you catch yourself in those two lies? It is simple to describe, but very hard to do.
Notice when you look in the mirror and think, yuck, and come in with that voice of kindness saying, “I know you wish you had no wrinkles, but come on, you have earned each and every one of those wrinkles by laughing too hard and concentrating too much. Is life about wrinkles or about experiences?”
Or when your body says it needs to rest in the middle of the day and your Monger comes in to say, “Get at it or you are going to get fired,” pause to hear that voice of kindness that says, “Ugh being tired and having work to get done is so hard, but let’s be honest, you are not going to get fired. You are awesome at this job and the deadline for this project is next week so there is time.” Or “What if you took a nap for 10 minutes? Just lay your head down on the desk and sleep.” Or “I can finish this project tonight after the kids go to bed. I am going to curl up with them and zone out to a movie right now.”
This is what I do. What do you do? How do you practice being kind to yourself? What have you found that works?
Being kind is hard. It feels unnatural and it is not what we have been told to do. We need as many ideas as possible to change these two lies and establish new truths.
My guest this week, Brittany Berger, has raised a one-woman battle against hustle culture and her addiction to it. Before starting her digital media company, Brittany firmly believed the hustle culture lie with all of her being—until she completely burned out. Listen to the full episode here to hear Brittany’s transformational story of burnout and learn how to unhook the belief that we can rest only when we have earned it.