Lately I’ve been having trouble “feeling” kindhearted. I know that being kindhearted is something I should always aspire to be since I was taught from an early age that a kind word turns away wrath. I have to admit I’ve been trying to “fake it till I make it” in this endeavor. I have a million (or at least a dozen) trite cliches running through my brain right now… “Smile, and the world smiles with you – Cry, and you cry alone” being the predominate one at the moment. Another that jumps to the forefront is, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” Okay – that last one IS more of a song that gets stuck on a track in my head – a sort of loop running over and over and over through my brain at the most inconvenient times. Times like when I know I need to be nice, and my “inside” voice is telling me, “No, you don’t wanna!”, and I get downright stubborn about resisting doing what I know I ought to do, or say, or “feel”. In fact, Romans 7:19 says, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.” To that I say, “Yup, I totally get ‘ya, Paul”!
It should be a rule as a little kid in preschool, or whatever they call it in the 21st century, in addition to learning to share, no hitting others, saying “excuse me” when you have something to say and someone else is speaking, and all those other wonderful rules that were drummed into our little minds by our adult caregivers – we should have HAD to learn to be kind to ourselves in addition to others. How many crying jags could I have skipped over in my lifetime if I had only been told it was okay to take care of my needs, my heart, my feelings, my … self!
It’s now that I’m practically “old” (GASP!) that I have learned to practice “self care”. It is not the gooey, overly used “self care” I’m talking about. NOT the whole, 503 easy steps to “self care” article you may have read in a magazine; rather, the BEING KINDHEARTED to myself kind of “self care”. To me there is a difference between the two.
I don’t need the kind that makes myself schedule a time out from stress during the day at specified times, planning a social night out with the girls, or even taking a bubble bath instead of making dinner for my spouse… although there is nothing at all wrong with “those” kinds of practical steps to “self care”. I’m simply talking about the way I talk to myself – inside, in the secret spaces of myself. Where the self hatred lives. Where the very long list of my failures live. Where I have filed away the gazillion sins I’ve committed that I still feel guilty about. I make myself sick – like, physically ill – when I dwell on those negative and untrue thoughts. I have to visualize a HUGE STOP SIGN in “there” that brings the ugly stuff to a screeching halt! Then…
I CAN treat myself to the same KINDHEARTED, forgiving, patient, gentle, uplifting words of encouragement I would give to my best friend. I now put sticky notes in places I look at often with little encouraging thoughts TO myself. Thoughts like: YES, you can. You ARE nice. You ARE enough. You ARE worthy. You DESERVE goodness. You ARE loved. YOU love others. You ARE special to someone. You ARE likable. You are smart. You are capable. You ARE patient. You are empathetic. “You” are in charge of YOU.
Because I have been putting “good stuff” in my brain to think – stew – and ponder on, I have a different attitude about myself. The self-talk is no longer a silly “act”. I don’t “embarrass” myself like I did when I first started to do this “self care” experiment. I actually don’t feel like I’m “acting”. I actually have changed the way I see myself. It is a relief to have a positive and encouraging repeating “loop” of self soothing thoughts running through this brain of mine.
It’s never too late to change. That is another thought for a new sticky “to” myself while I continue to pursue being KINDHEARTED – To Me.