Someone told me recently that they enjoy reading what I have to say because I write what everyone thinks, but nobody wants to say or admit. That pleased me because thinking I have a connection with others is something I have struggled with all my life. The theme of the one recurring dream I have had is that I am on the outside looking in. The dream could be about a picnic or a party or a meeting but the feeling it brings up is always the same—I don’t fit in. The others do not reject me though; instead, I hold myself apart by choice, evaluating and assessing and yes, fearful, even as the heart of me longs to belong.
But this person’s observation brought into focus for me the universality of all our longings and to that end it gives me the courage to share something I learned just recently. It was an epiphany of sorts for me, although it may not be for you. It is simple: be kind to yourself.
When I said those words to myself for the first time not long ago, discovering them as an archeologist would discover a treasure sifting through a pile of rubble, they struck me with the same wonder. I saw my actions in lucid perspective—my actions toward myself, that is—and for the most part, those actions have not been kind. They have had a driving, critical and pushy aspect—like a stage mother whose child is never good enough. But with the simple phrase, be kind to yourself, I perceived a whole different way of treating myself, one that is forgiving and gentle and humorous and relaxed.
When I treat myself with kindness, I exist within the rich moments of my day, savoring them, not expecting any return or reward. I almost used the word ‘grateful’ here, but ‘gratitude’ is becoming a vague, sanctimonious term, stacking us against one another in the spiritual materialism department and that’s not a very kind thing to do to ourselves, is it?
So I’ll just say that reminding myself to be kind to myself gives me a long perspective, and like all long perspectives, it reveals choices.