The word compassion has been somewhat overused in my conversations of late. It’s a word I have to use very, very carefully – and yet, all it really means is kindness.
What I have learned over the last three months, is that we all struggle with self-compassion, on a much greater scale than I ever thought. I assume that as you sit here reading my blog, that you – like me – have absolutely no problem in dishing out kindness to others. Perhaps you’ve already seen to everyone else’s needs in your home today. Perhaps you’ve called your friend who you know is having a particularly tough time. You may be feeling guilty that you’ve not yet written the birthday card yet or answered the emails and messages from friends who are checking in on you.
We place such high expectations on ourselves and it can be a double–edged sword. I place the most ridiculous pressure on myself – and yet I too, am the first to forgive if someone is having an off day, or needs an afternoon off to put themselves first.
I think we all need reminding today that without self-compassion, there is no compassion to spread. I’m not talking setting up meditation yurts in your office or chanting with dolphin music – yet the phrase ‘self-compassion’ really does sit uncomfortably with our British sensibilities. It’s fine for everyone else, but not for me and you. We cannot be the exception though, because neither you nor I are any different to anyone else. We all need a little gentle talking to – and it has to come from within. Only then can we really carve out time in our day that is preserved for ourselves. It needn’t be a grand indulgent gesture and for me, it’s the little quickies that give my day the ‘Pleasure Pops’ it needs.
For this week, let’s just keep it really simple. If you’re struggling to find the motivation for a complete dietary overhaul, a daily boot camp regime or to relabel all your jars with perfect calligraphy, perhaps don’t. The pressure is just too much and the sense of disappointment when another day slips by and we still don’t live like Gwyneth, really doesn’t help. Instead think of the ‘low hanging fruit’. What little habit or act of self-care can you slip into your day, that just brings you a step closer to rebooting your energy levels, your health, your movement.
I’ve always paid my daily rent to my fitness, knowing that ‘bootcamps’ and rigorous regimes are not for me. And what I do know for certain is that ten minutes of toning a day is a way kinder and more successful approach than the gruelling one I felt obliged to do in my twenties. Consistency and kindness – and a little logic – really is the fastest and most successful route.
Take away the pressure of ‘perfection’, allow yourself the days where you perhaps have pancakes for supper, and I promise you that you will naturally start eating more mindfully without having to really think about it. For me, this was such a revolution and I can’t tell you the joy I have to not have to say ‘my diet starts Monday’ as I did for about a decade of my life.
It is not indulgent to care for ourselves first. It can all start today and it can all start with the smallest of gestures for yourself. Do take a moment for yourself today and think about what you need, what your health needs and what small act you can do today just to take a step in the right direction. Be compassionate with yourself as the alternative does not work. Self–compassion is a non–negotiable if you really are serious about improving how you feel. And we all deserve to feel our absolute best.