Often enough we know how to be there for a friend, how to comfort a child in distress, how to say a kind word to a struggling stranger. We constantly show our loved ones that they are human beings worthy of love and yet we are the worst critics of ourselves. We meet ourselves with negation and harshness. As humans we are greatly flawed, our common humanity reveals itself in this imperfections. Yet we feel isolated in our own.
I have been learning to relate to myself in kindness. To talk to myself in a gentle and forgiving manner. To show up and be there for myself, especially when I think I least deserve it and feel like a shit human being. This shift in how I relate to myself has started showing up positively in my interpersonal relationships. Yesterday I read a journal entry I made back in June, when I was struggling. I was pleased with how kindly I spoke to myself. How much compassion I showed. I realized that this change, though not 100% conscious or intentional has been a by product of the deconditioning and mindfulness journey I have been on, for the last year.
Mom guilt is self-defeating
Incase you are wondering how self compassion relates to motherhood, I will explain how I see it. When we are kind and loving to ourselves we feel more in touch and connected with our essence. We are more fulfilled as individuals. At our very worst, we still tend to have emotional control and a more accurate sense of self. Not meeting ourselves with criticism takes away harsh self judgment. When we enter any relationship, while in possession of a great relationship with ourselves, we tend to be better spouses, moms, dads, friends, daughters, sons…..
My internal prosecutor used to be mean, especially in and around motherhood. In a moment of defeat, say for example I yelled at Shay without meaning too, or was impatience, she would say things like “you are such a bad mom” “what is wrong with you?” Every parent has yelled at his, her child without meaning to, but that does not necessarily qualify us as bad parents. It’s just a moment out of many wonderful moments. Taking into consideration how hard things can get with little ones and knowing that this is not exclusive to only us, I say we cut ourselves some slack.
When I fall short of my intentions, I stop and breath, I acknowledge crossing my own boundary, apologize and reset. This way I internally validate myself as a person worthy of self love in all my aspects. I refrain from any sort of internal persecution and extend myself the same gentleness I afford my child.
Constant self criticism helps release high amounts of cortisol which ups our stress level and in turn, creates a cycle of self made madness. Which as we know, is not conducive for real growth or change. I discovered a practice which helps off throw this cortisol production. As soon as Shay or I are getting out of control, I hold her. We play a game which we call the breathing game. We breath in and out counting 1 through 10, with every number we take a deep breath in, hold, release. This game helps shift things, through holding her our bodies release oxytocin. Through deep breathing our bodies calm down and our heart rate slows too. Shay believes it’s a fun game and counts as loud as she can and does her best breathing in and out, which is funny to watch. We do this any and everywhere, it always works.
I will take self compassion over mom guilt anyday. This is in no way to say that I do not call myself out or hold myself responsible for the uncalled for, undeserving things I do to others. Only I afford myself the same courtesy of correcting with kindness that I afford others, mostly. Guilt in any form is self defeating and serves to frustrate our intentions. While compassion helps us relate to each other in a more humane way and most importantly, relate to ourselves kindly. In acceptance of our shortcomings we are able to be vulnerable and view our inadequacy as perfectly human.
Every now and then, I do something foolish, and catch the thought formulating “dang, you are such an idiot”, I short circuit it real quick, and tap into the common humanity that none of us is perfect.
Below is an excerpt from the aforementioned journal entry. As always thanks for reading and do extend yourself some of that compassion that you show others, cheers.