Kids are not born with manuals which leaves parents totally confused at times, but they are somehow born with enlightened knowledge of how to push all of our buttons. At. Exactly. The. Right. Time. And while simply being kind to your kids is an obvious virtue, it can be really REALLY hard at times (cue in kid screaming “wipe my butt” at 5:45 am). But if you are not kind to yourself, how can you role model the behavior you want your kids to live? How does one practice self-compassion?
Self-compassion can be described as kindness in the face of failure or sense of inadequacy, a mindful approach to negative emotions, and recognizing that one’s experience is part of the common human experience. It begins with awareness of your internal state and continues onto having empathy for that feeling. It is a sort of external awareness of your internal state. An acknowledgement of ‘these feeling are here, but they are not me.’ It is a state of non-judgement, just acceptance of the as-is. After all, am I not just a human being with a human body, in a world of human thoughts? That’s ok.
This past weekend I went to NYC for a conference (with Dr. Shefali Tsabary on Conscious Parenting). I went to this conference by choice (and it was fabulous) but I was scared. I was worried about traveling alone, flying, getting in/out of the city, navigating to where I needed to go, knowing no one, etc. I was stressed, to say the least.
I can talk through the judgement I had towards myself and own it as if it were the facts (how dare I, a capable and strong woman be scared?) or I can look through the lens of kindness (going to a chaotic new place alone is stressful). And ask myself how would I treat a friend who told me the same story ? How would I treat my child in this situation? Of course I would be compassionate and empathetic. So why not be that way towards myself? It was also fair to acknowledge that I was not the only one who probably felt this way. Accepting the common humanity of this issue helps to process it as external and not a part of Who I Am.
In my mindfulness course this week I heard this quote:
“The body is just doing what it does – it is affected by what food goes in and what energy we put out – but it simply follows the laws of nature. It is so innocent. And it is sort of tragic that we’re often so harsh with our bodies and body image. Part of mindfulness practice is opening to the innocence of our bodies and learning to be gentle. This is a deep learning.” –Mindful Schools, Introduction to Fundamentals Training: Week 3
So when my child needs help “wiping” before the crack of dawn, I need to remember to be kind. The little guy just needs help. Plain and simple. It has nothing to do with trying to torture us.
Traveling to NYC was a good reminder to be gentle with myself. I am a human with thoughts, feelings, and behaviors but none of those define my being. My being is the person I truly am.
(c) 2016, Nurture: Family Education and Guidance