As an advocate for the concept of self-care (read more about The Transformative Power of Self-Care from my book), one of the most common responses I hear from people when I challenge them to make this a priority is: I don't have the time.
Then, most are very surprised to hear that releasing self-criticism, practicing a "good is good enough” approach, letting go of expectations, dumping self-judgment and being kind towards yourself, are some of the most profound self-care practices that exist. Surprised?
Recently, we sat down as a family to create a list of our key family values--kind of a family creed. (We plan to let my son decorate and paint this creation and then we’ll hang it up in our home.) We each chose 1-2 values that were really important to us and then discussed what should go on our collective list. One quality that my husband and I both really value, is kindness—to others, but also towards self.
As a career/work-life balance coach and speaker, I get the opportunity to work very closely with my clients around creating and designing careers that support their larger life goals. Almost all of them will share that one of the blocks they often experience is their own negative self-talk. They are very hard on themselves. The concept of “self-kindness,” particularly during life transitions, is foreign to most. But, it’s essential.
30-Day Self-Kindess Challenge: Find a photo of yourself between the ages of 3-7 and tape it up in a place where you’ll see it every day. Then, for the next 30 days, anytime you have harsh thoughts towards yourself, pause—look at the photo-- and then ask “What if I were a small child and was having a really hard day?” How would I treat myself? Would I slow down? Would my perspective change? How would I comfort myself? In the groundbreaking book The Heartmath Solution, the authors share research that shows feelings of care literally boost the immune system, while feelings of anger suppress it significantly.
At the numerous women's conferences I've spoken at recently, participants all agreed: we’re trying to do too much and we’re moving too fast. And, as women, many of us are continuing to give to everyone but ourselves.
As we navigate these coming months and move into one of the most potentially stressful times of the year for many—a season when demands for our time and energy reach an all-time high-- I challenge you to be kinder toward yourself, and others.
Be mindful of your thoughts and as one of my mentors says, “Be gentle with yourself.” And, when you do, watch your perspective about everything and everyone shift. The gifts that come from self-care and self-acceptance are by far, some of the best I have ever received.
Take good care--Renee