I find it difficult to be kind to myself. I am my own harshest critic, taskmaster and mean-faced bully. I have been for many years already. I would probably continue to be, except that I have encountered grace and found it to be a much more enjoyable way of living. So I’m learning how to be kinder to myself; to be hospitable to my own soul and to extend generosity to the person I most closely live with.
Here are four simple ways I’m choosing to be kinder to myself:
Growing up, I was a pretty serious child. Maybe it was influenced by being an only child, but I rarely played. I drew pictures and read books, but I didn’t hold tea parties with my stuffed animals. I didn’t even name them. I didn’t see the point of running around, chasing other kids. Now that I am a mother, I am learning anew how to play. I am figuring out how to engage my imagination again and laugh into the wind.
I’m learning to leave things unfinished; to say “This can wait for another day.” I’m becoming less driven and more relaxed about seeing things get accomplished. I’m learning to enjoy the process and not fixate on the end product. I’m pushing myself less and leaning into the “unforced rhythms of grace” more (Matt. 11:28, The Message). I’m taking out the word, “should,” (among other burdensome words) from my vocabulary.
After I experienced burnout 5 years ago, I realized I needed to rest more. I used to think I’d rest when I got to heaven, but I learned that if I didn’t rest, I’d end up there sooner. I take Sundays off – no cooking, no cleaning, no email or work. The whole day is dedicated to enjoying those closest to me, doing life-giving things (such as reading) and appreciating the life I’ve been given. I also aim to be in bed by 10 pm so that I can get a decent amount of sleep every night. It means I have to be more selective in how I spend my time, but allowing myself to be well-rested greatly improves the quality of my waking hours.
Let Go of Perfection
I’m a recovering perfectionist. My perfectionism might have its roots in all the ballet I did growing up, but I’m learning to accept the imperfect these days. I’m learning to stop trying to live up to the phantom ideal self I imagine in my head. I’m learning to rejoice in the blemishes, the incomplete and the less-than-ideal. I’m learning to be content with what is, instead of always looking at what isn’t.
Being kinder to myself requires that I dare to believe that I am worth loving just as I am. It feels like a slow process sometimes. But I think I’m getting there.
photo credit: *Seth via photopin cc