How do we learn self-kindness?
It just occurred to me, when chatting to a friend yesterday, that throughout our lives we are taught how to be kind to other people. We are taught to give and to not be selfish. It is instilled in us from our earliest years to be non violent to other people, to never say mean words to others, to be gentle and loving and nurturing to others. And on the occasions that we lose ourselves and utter spiteful or harsh comments to people around us - the instant reaction is guilt and self depreciation. But when do we get taught how to be kind to ourselves?
At what point does someone teach us how to be compassionate to ourselves and not speak abusively to our own being? How do we learn self-kindness?
It appears to be something we have to teach ourselves. And perhaps that is why we go through the struggles of being a hormonal teenager, and then feeling a little indestructible in our twenties, before heading towards the big 30 and wondering if there is either something wrong with us... or wrong with the world we live in maybe?
The way I have spoken to myself in the past is utterly destructive. The violence I have subjected my own body to - the very body that breathes for me, moves for me and works so bloody hard for me, day in, day out - is something I would never, ever dream of doing to another person. Even someone I disliked or didn't get on with. The words simply could not come out of my mouth.
Yet, the poisonous words I have used about my own body, came so easily. Why is that? The vessel that has carried me for all these years, that works hard in the gym, that allows me to do yoga, that digests my food, that houses my inner self. Why do I not feel the same sense of guilt and shame when I speak badly of her?
The past few weeks have been quite tough on my poor body. I have been very unpleasant towards her. I have said harmful, damaging words to her because of the anxiety of going away on my yoga teacher training course. There are always moments in our lives that set us off on a destructive pattern - and the thought of going away for a month and having to spend time in a bikini and skimpy clothes - has been a big trigger for me. But I notice it now. Can you notice it in yourself?
I am the biggest I have ever been, I can no longer fit into my little black dress... and it pains me to say that. I look back at pictures when I was at my tiniest and wish I could look like her again. But in reality - she was at her weakest. She wasn't happy then - not with her self and not with her body. I am the strongest, fittest and happiest I have ever been - yet there is something within me that says... 'you can't have it all you know'... 'you can't enjoy your life, do the things you want to do AND be comfortable in your own skin'.
This is just another form of self sabotage. I could choose to run with it, wallow and peck away at the already sore wound. OR, I could choose a different path this time. I could acknowledge that the destructive pattern didn't serve me last time, or the time before that, or the time before that. So maybe it is time to take a different route? One that involves compassion and kindness towards myself.
I have accepted that unless I learn to like my body right now, as it is, no amount of eating well or exercising is going to make me happy. It simply cannot be that way round. It has to come from a place of love first - but that is far tougher than dieting or pushing myself at the gym.
Exercise and eating well has to be because I love myself, not as a vehicle to make me love myself.
I just hope that she can forgive me. I hope that she can understand that I was acting from a place of fear and self doubt, rather than from a place of love and compassion. I hope she doesn't feel that I have given up on her, or that she is not worthy - because she truly is. When I look at her from an outside perspective I adore her. I see her vulnerability and her strength and I simply want to hug her and tell her how proud I am of her.
This next chapter is for me and her. It is time to give her what she deserves, the nourishment she desires, the chance to reunite.
It is time to learn self-kindness.