I cannot believe I have not blogged since April 29 2020!! I shall be more regular henceforth. Thanks to all of you who prodded me to write and to those who asked me more bluntly, why the blog page was on if nothing was being written!! Here is what I hope the first of a regular spree of blogs from me, and from guest bloggers we plan to bring on from time to time.
At the end of each session, as part of her cool down / winding down talk, my yoga instructor talks about kindness. She says 'view yourself with compassion' and 'be kind to others, speak kindly, but above all, be kind to yourself'. She says this at the end of each session, every single time.
The first few times I heard this, I zoned out. I was tired and was thinking it was the usual blah, well, she has to say something right? But as I became more of a regular for her classes, I started to listen to what she was saying, both instructions and esp. her end-of-session- talk. After a particularly bad day, one evening, as I heard her say those words - I will repeat it here again, 'view yourself with compassion' and 'be kind to others, speak kindly, but above all, be kind to yourself', I realized something- I do not view myself with compassion and I am not kind to myself! Don't get me wrong, I am a perfectly sane person and if you met me, you won't go away with the feeling, 'hey you know what vibes she was giving? she hates herself!'
(Btw, that is not me in the picture. But that is come contortion yes?? Whoever you are, I bow to you!!)
We all have bad days and we are all harsh on ourselves from time to time. But of late, I feel, (and this is just me!) we women, have stopped being kind to ourselves. Even as we march on making our presence felt at workplaces, eke out our own businesses, (and make a success of it), become mentors, even as we are getting more and more confident, we are viewing ourselves with less and less compassion.
We may vacation more, go to the salon more often and take aerobic classes, go on 'girls only' travels and girls nights out more….but these appear to be more acts of well, 'this is overdue to us' (and it is!!) and 'we deserve this'. My oldest closest friend and I spent a week in a city (last year, pre Covid times) that was topping 110F in the summer!!!….however we enjoyed it so much, we went out every day, in that searing heat and neither of us felt a thing. This while being one of my most treasured memories also highlighted to me that we were both carrying out an agenda- a 'this is our time, and we will enjoy it'. Even as we talked about the past present and future, being candid and open with each other, I also saw how much we had both changed over the decades and how, at the end of the day, we were being harsh on ourselves intrinsically, albeit covering it with spa pampering and manicures! She, like me, had the things she had not accomplished, or should have done by now on her mind all the time. It was not regret or self-pity, but rather more, a sense of 'I should have done this , I am capable of it and I am somehow not able to get my hands on this'.
If one is honest, I will say this is a feeling a lot of us, men and women have. It is not an overestimation of our abilities, which we all are guilty of from time to time.
This is more about being too critical of ourselves even as we go about confidently staking a claim, marking a spot under the sun! In the movie Enchanted, the character Nathaniel asks the prince, 'Sire, do you like yourself?' and the prince replies with puzzlement ' what's not to like?'. Simple enough isn't it? Yet, why is this so hard?
Is it a case of an inability to balance reality with aspirations? Or is it simply a case of not having taken the time (and from time to time) to review who we are and what we have become? Our core values may remain the same, but how we go about attaining those values changes. How we approach issues, how we tackle them, those processes changes. Some choices are driven by circumstances, some by the phase of life we are in, and many times, we just want change!! These choices work out, and sometimes, many times, they don't!
Where the dissonance comes from is we refuse to accept that change. We may not even have realized we have changed, that it is I who has changed and that it is I who needs things different! And so we continue to view people and things through the same lens we used to. And it doesn't make sense anymore and we cannot understand why! All this builds up, and again, speaking from personal experience, becomes toxic to our own selves, making us view not the world, but ourselves with an almost detached harshness.
My previous post, 'Have you done a 'jobs done' list yet' touched a bit on this…we are so busy looking at what we need to do, what else and what's next (which is healthy to an extent), we tend to forget to cherish and celebrate the ticks on that list. Reminding ourselves of our own accomplishments brings not only a sense of achievement, but also reveals to us a sense of who we are, who we have become. Taking the time to review ourselves is something we don't do. Not during our travels, not during our spa outings and not even during girls night out! Kindness is not a material thing. It is not quantifiable or easily measurable! We may be loved and respected by a whole lot of people. But that's not enough. Or rather, that will not mean much until we learn to view ourselves with kindness.
I am not saying meditate and the answers will come to you, it may come in the middle of a hectic work day, or, like me, it may hit you when your body is contorted in odd ways during a yoga class! But take in that moment. Or make a commitment to address it on a right-now basis. Make a note, even a physical note to think about yourself.
I still don’t know how to be kind to myself and view myself with compassion. But I know now that I have to! That is one step taken already. You do it too. Right now.
And tell us how it went! And if you are on that path already, if you have things to add to this, let us know…(comment below).