Yesterday while running, I was listening to an animated podcast conversation between Liz Gilbert and Brene Brown, two of my most favorite writers. One of the things that struck me was the topic on how we talk to ourselves when we are in the midst of a painful or shameful experience. The first retort is one that berates. It’s a blaming voice that says things like “how can you be so stupid, so naive”, “if only you were smart enough”, “you are such a screw up”, “I knew it, you wouldn’t be able to do it”… and many other permutations of this dialogue. We may be the most compassionate of people and we speak to others soothingly and reassuringly. But when it comes to talking to ourselves we are at our harshest. We are so hard on ourselves, as if we do not deserve to be understood. There is a sense of unworthiness that drives this self talk.
But we can choose to be gentle with ourselves instead, to speak to our hearts like how we would talk to someone we truly love. If we can choose our words and communicate lovingly with our dearly beloved why not when we address ourselves? Especially during moments when we feel that we are not enough, when shame just chokes the best out of us, we should always reserve a calm and compassionate voice for self reassurance. It is a genuine way of taking care of our fragile hearts, to nurture our spirits, nursing our weary souls until we feel ready to take on the world again. It is unfair to just save it for others. Self care is the ultimate gift we give ourselves so we can give more of us to the world and to the ones we hold dear.
It might seem selfish to have a deliberate time for one’s self, with all the demands of our day to day. Guilt is such a strong feeling, especially among women who feel that their time and energy is best used for others. Going through our responsibilities and relationships carrying a heavy burden of guilt is not good for everyone. We end up being resentful when people don’t seem to appreciate our sacrifice. The dialogue revolves around how much we have given up just to be there for others. It is often a blame game, finding fault in others because we feel that we are doing the best that we can. It is unfair to the ones closest to us and ultimately unfair to ourselves.
So let us find time for ourselves, be gentle when we are out of sorts and lovingly speak to our own hearts as we coax and prod it to show up everyday in what we choose to do.