“If your compassion does not include yourself it is not complete.” - Jack Kornfield
“If your compassion does not include yourself it is not complete.” Jack Kornfield
It’s the New Year. Time to start again. When I was a younger woman, I used to make resolutions every year (lose weight! learn Spanish!). Now that I am older, and maybe a little wiser, I try to be kinder to myself. I resist making “resolutions,” because when you make a resolution, the assumption is that there is something wrong with you that needs to be fixed. The intentions I set for myself at the New Year these days are not about trying to fix myself, or about needing to do more, or to be better somehow. I now focus on the simple things - like taking a moment to light candles and remembering to count my blessings every morning; to treat myself with more loving care by going to bed early when I am tired; to take long walks in the sunshine; to slow down enough to fully appreciate the beauty all around me; to spend more time in the company of the people who make me laugh; not to pass up an opportunity to jump in a lake or climb a hill to see a gorgeous view. In all of these ways, I show up for myself in the present moment. In all of these ways, I fill my cup, so that I can show up for others.
I think kindness is an underrated quality. Nobody would debate that the world could use more kindness in general - especially these days. But I would suggest that in addition to being kinder to each other, we might consider being more kind to ourselves. We tend to be our own worst critics. Sometimes I catch a snippet of the tape that is looping in my brain all day long. Normally it runs below consciousness, but once in a while, if I tilt my head just so, I can catch the things that I am saying to myself. And sometimes they are not very kind. This subconscious tape urges me to go faster, be smarter, stop doing this and start doing that. According to this internal voice, I don’t do much that is important. I would never say to anyone else the things I sometimes say to myself. I try to be a very kind and generous person - just not always to myself. Somewhere along the way, I was taught that being tough on myself was a way to keep myself in line. Being “selfish” was a negative trait to avoid, or else you would seem conceited.
When my kids were small, and trying to master some new skill, I would chant “Stick to it! You can do it!” and I would jump up and down with joy whenever they did. If they failed, I would comfort and encourage them. I believed in them and I wanted them to believe in themselves. And so that is my intention for this New Year. Instead of being so hard on myself, I hope to encourage myself. I intend to be a cheerleader for myself. Instead of grumbling when I can’t master a new thing right away, I am going to take a deep breath and cheer myself on. I’m going to laugh at my foibles and fumbles along the way. I’m going to be light of heart. Being kind shouldn’t end with being loving and charitable to others - it should also include being kind to yourself. Filling my cup with kindness, with gratitude for the beauty that surrounds me in the natural world and for the appreciation of being alive - that is my New Year’s intention.