Saturday, April 12, 2008
Kindness and compassion in mid-life
Kindness and compassion for myself? I'm good to myself, usually. I eat well, go to bed early, do yoga once a week, have even been known to get a massage once every six months....
A friend of mine, aged 49, consulted a woman who works with guides and angels for advice on her life. It was suggested that she needed to be kinder to herself. That left her perplexed. A therapist several years ago told me the same thing. It appears I was good at being strong, at carrying on, at taking on burdens that were not my own....at being responsible for everyone else except myself. Aching in the shoulders that was so bad I needed a heating pad to sleep at night was my first clue that I was carrying too much.
After working on the physical pain with physiotherapy, acupuncture and osteopathy, I began to untangle the emotional ingredients of my 'burden of responsibility'. My journey to healing through self-care has been a bit slow, but it is paying off. I am learning ways to be kind to myself, starting with getting the proper healing treatments. But mostly, I am working with the mind set that got me there.... a life time of perfectionism, and striving to be number one. (being eldest daughter in a family of eight, and 'little mother's helper' geared me up for it, and also striving to please my father with academic success). The trouble is, when I am harsh on myself, I am unforgiving with others close to me also.
How to undo the mind set? First off, I have tried to absorb the wisdom my therapist gave me in three little words. "I am enough". She questioned why I was giving away all my time to volunteer efforts and other people's projects and incapable of sticking to a creative project of my own. She made me look at how I strive to please others with 'good behavior', and constantly need outside approval. Five years later, I am still practising that mantra, I am enough, and still disengaging from too many volunteer projects. The feeling of being overwhelmed and stressed is often the product of saying Yes when I really mean NO.
How do I take care of myself? good question, and a good reminder to me to do something nice for me today. This week I asked my daughter to cook on a night when I wasn't going to have time before chorus rehearsal. I gave myself one morning off to do some creative loafing and dreaming with my journal. I went to bed at 9 pm one night after two nights late nights. I snuggled with my hubbie and watched a movie last night. He cooked me breakfast and made my cafe au lait this morning.....I want to book a pedicure this week to let my feet know I haven't forgotten about them. I tried a new yoga class and walked there in the sunshine. Oh yeah, and my women's circle brought me to an art class where I coloured with pastels and got in touch with my inner scribbler.
I know there is more I could do, affirmations to help me believe in myself, to attract joy in my life.
How can you be kinder to yourself today? this week? It may involve slowing down the pace, reducing your 'to do' list by only one or two items instead of trying to tackle the whole list. Or it may involve sitting down to eat a meal without interruptions, paying attention to the savouring and enjoyment of nourishing food.
Got a tip for mid-life women and self-care? leave a comment,
we can all benefit,