During November, I did a daily self-love challenge. I lost momentum about twenty-one days into it. The focus of the challenge took a drastic turn one night when I yelled at my kids. I felt terrible for days and I couldn’t forgive myself for how I treated them. There was no way I could practice self-love at that point.
Wasn’t that what I was asking for this whole time? An opportunity to practice patience, forgiveness, and compassion? When I took my frustrations out on my kids that night, I felt self-critical and just plain shitty about myself and the situation. Did I deserve to go through a challenge of self-love or was it exactly what I needed?
What you can see going on here is a cocktail of the inner critic and self-love. It took a few days for me to process that night with my children, and there were a variety of strategies that I used to work through it. I didn’t necessarily have an “ah-ha!” moment but it helped me shift gears and be kinder and gentler with myself and with them. Here’s what I tried:
CURIOUSITY- Listen to the inner voice (not the inner critic!). What comes up when you ask yourself and reflect on your needs and wants. Give yourself permission to say yes to everything!
CAPTURE THE MAGIC- It may not feel like anything magical at first, but journaling can be a way to take note of what comes up. No worries if it feels like there is too much going on or nothing at all. It also might feel strange at first, but there’s really no wrong way to do this.
INNER WHAT? – I’m ok being a broken record about this one. Listen to your inner wisdom and trust yourself. If it’s challenging to do this at first, perhaps connect and check in with someone. Ask for what you need as they listen. Maybe it’s affirmation, encouragement, action, or maybe to be a loving presence for you.
Maybe this challenge added a layer of self-compassion to the self-love I was working on. Don’t get me wrong, the self-love was great on its own, but when I started getting critical of myself, being kind to myself would have really been the thing to switch gears to. Whether you are trying new things or increasing awareness around your daily tasks, take it moment to moment. Slow down and keep practicing, opportunities are all over the place.
If you’re interested in more work around self-compassion, Kristin Neff Ph.D., an associate professor at The University of Texas at Austin, offers great resources on self-compassion on her website and in her book, Self-Compassion.