In the beginning of a new year, we often go through and evaluate the past year. What changed, what do we wish to have more during the next year and what could we do without. I will remember the past year as the year when I started my own company. It was also the year when I truly found the power of self-compassion as a way to bring more quality to everyday work and family life.
“I don’t get how you do that. How do you combine being a mom to small children, your marriage, entrepreneurship, and your own wellbeing?” Another working mom asked me this question some time ago.
I heard myself answering to her: “Well, I use many tricks to save my time and energy. I’ve also learned to tolerate unfinished projects and to set the bar lower with many things.” A very common answer to a very common question. Then our children started fussing and our discussion continued with other topics.
The next day my answer started bothering me. First of all, I should have told my friend that “I feel that I don’t handle that well at all. It’s sometimes really hard. It feels awful to wake up at 4 am thinking how you are going to pay all the bills. Not to mention about gaining weight because of mental stress and uncertainty. Or noticing that you are often the last parent to pick up their kid from the day care. It feels awful.”
Yes, if I would get the second chance I would tell my friend about all these thoughts and feelings. And I would tell her how important it is to share them with someone. How sharing my deepest feeling and fears has become crucial for me in my everyday life.
Secondly, I would tell her about self-compassion: how learning to talk to myself as I would talk to my best friend has helped me overcome challenging emotions and find relaxation even when things get tough. Self-compassion, which helps me find peace of mind even in the middle of endless to do lists and feelings of inadequacy, has become another key thing in my everyday life.
With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend. -Kristen Neff-
In my online course last autumn I encouraged the participants to buy Kristen Neff’s book as a gift for themselves. That same tip I would also like to give to you.
Introducing self-compassion to your life may require a lot of patience. It’s like you need self-compassion with your self-compassion – ironic, right? Patience is important because it may take a lot of time to adopt the idea of self-compassion. Not to mention to put things into practice in your everyday life.
With a lot of patience and my Finnish sisu I managed to do that. Now I can say that have two voices inside my head: the inner critique, which used to be the louder and more dominant one, and the compassionate voice, which has a kinder and more compassionate tone. The latter adds some reason to my feelings and reminds me that I’m enough when I’m about to fall back into old habits. The compassionate voice stops me when I’m demanding too much of myself. It also tells me to do a reality check when I’m comparing myself and my accomplishments to other people who are often in a different life situation than I am.
So when I’m thinking about this year, strengthening this comforting inner voice is something that I want to focus on – simply because it makes all the difference in my everyday work and family life. I believe that feeling bad about late day care pick-ups or unhealthy food choices won’t ruin our day if we take a compassionate attitude towards ourselves. Just as a good friend would do.
I’ve also noticed that nature makes self-compassion easier.
Nature includes comforting elements and naturally awakens positive thoughts and feelings in us. That’s why having compassionate thoughts towards ourselves is often easier in nature.
Just spending time in nature when you are feeling blue may help.
Today when I walked to our sauna cottage, I went to photograph the art created by winter frost. I also went there to have a compassionate moment for myself. These kind of moments will be the highlights of my everyday life also this year.
As I was sitting there by the lake Puruvesi I also thought about the future. As a backup plan, I guess I could start creating nature relaxation programs for locals and tourists here in Saimaa. There are surely plenty of peaceful places here for that. 😉
“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.” -Christopher Germer-