My husband and I just finished writing and teaching an eight week course on anxiety management from a faith perspective. (Hence the silence on the blog. Thanks for your patience while my creative energy went to creating a curriculum).
It was such an honor to hear our group’s stories each week as we talked about how to find that peaceful place deep within us even in the midst of life’s storms. As they shared and we shared, I noticed a common theme emerge week after week.
We are way too hard on ourselves.
This may not be universally true, but it is true for most of us much of the time. We are our own worst critics. We expect unreasonable things from ourselves day after day. We give ourselves grief instead of grace when we fail. Even when we succeed, we barely pause to enjoy the moment. We are quick to move on to what bigger and better things should come next.
I think of my own reaction this weekend after finishing our last class. As we were looking over the surveys which gave us good feedback, my husband asked happily, “so what do you think?” My only response was this. “I know we can make it better.”
Really? I’ve just finished the first class that I’ve taught on managing anxiety, just finished polishing off what is now basically a book waiting to be published, and the best I can come up with is, “I know we can make it better?”
Later on that evening the familiar words of a dear friend surfaced in my mind. It is the line with which he often ends his grace-filled letters and cards.
I doubt our friend knows the power these words have had in my life. They have prompted me to let go of crazed dinner prep and give myself the grace to order our favorite pizza during a stressful week. They have reminded me to slow down and care for myself with a cup of tea or a nice hot bath when times are tense. And today they reminded me to take a day to rest and celebrate after weeks of hard work that in the end bore good fruit.
So today being kind to myself looked a bit like this.
I reclined on the sofa reading a new fiction book for hours (Written from a dog’s point of view? I’m in!). Then I baked my favorite Paleo friendly apple/egg muffins. I let the kids alternate between playing outside for an hour and then playing minecraft for an hour instead of insisting we have an actual activity to pass the time. It was nice. It turns out being kind to myself feels good. And it helps me be kind to others too which is always a nice result.
So whether you are struggling this week or celebrating, I encourage you yo take my friend Harry’s advice.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF.
Do you have a favorite ritual for being nice to yourself? Feel free to share below.