As some of you may know, over the past 15 years I have been privileged to sit in a big armchair and speak regularly with a gifted Jungian analyst. This is not because I believe I’m so messed up that I need professional help, but because I believe in offering myself a safe and compassionate space to work out my fears and issues – so that they don’t take over my life.
Why am I telling you this now?
A few weeks ago I was on a Zoom call with this analyst and having a very challenging day – feeling overwhelmed by the the state of my world and the world in general – and so in desperation I asked her a question that perhaps all of us have asked this year: “what is it all for and why are we here and what is the POINT?!”
In her wise way she told me that everyone’s answer may be different, but she believed that it had something to do with kindness.
That at the core of it all was the journey of learning to be kind to ourselves and to each other.
I wasn’t sure in that moment how I felt about that answer. It seemed far too easy a response for a world and a life that at times seem unbearably messy and complicated. So I sat with it, mulled it over as I drank my tea, rested into the simplicity of it on my walk in the woods.
And finally I felt the truth and the warmth of it surging into my heart.
I became aware in that moment of all the ways that I wasn’t kind – especially to myself. I could see how even when life was at it’s most challenging, I seemed to take that opportunity to be the most unkind to myself. And it was an unconscious habit I’d been honing for a long time.
And I know how it feels, how much lighter my life and world feels, when I AM kind to myself.
So for me, something needed to change.
There is well-worn saying out there that bears repeating here:
‘If you can’t be kind, be quiet.”
And we most definitely can apply this to ourselves – not just that we should be kind to others but that we can first and foremost be kind to ourselves.
The mean voice in your head that tells you you are not enough – it needs to start being kind or it needs to shut up. Because all the nasty things it’s telling you – they are simply not true.
So not only is this voice unkind, it’s also lying to you.
I have had conversations with my negative voice, and recently they go like this:
Voice: “You can’t do that, it’s impossible, you will fail, you will never be good enough, you are too fat, too lazy, too old and you will never be anything or do anything important.”
And sometimes, this can go on for weeks and I don’t even realize that I’m telling myself these cruel, false things. Relentlessly, on repeat, mowing me down day by day.
Me: “Oh you’re such a liar. Be quiet and go away. You cannot live here if you’re going to tear me down all day. Seriously, shut up. And also – goodbye.”
Because there is no more time or room for this negative, unkind, debilitating voice in my head or in my life.
This voice does not speak the truth.
So it’s over.
I am awake now.
This voice is not in charge anymore, I am.
I know that my ego would like me to believe that kindness – especially when offered to myself – is weak, insipid and even stupid. This is how it keeps the negative beliefs churning away in my mind and running (and sometimes ruining) my life.
These days I am literally taking back my life one kind word at a time.
So please, let all your words in your head be kind.
No judgement or guilt or merciless nitpicking, just relentless tenderness.
Maybe Jewel and my therapist were right along, and
“In the end, only kindness matters.”
Sing it with me.
After I have banished the voice of fear and judgement and perfectionism (sometimes I have to do this several times a day), I replace it with: “Shona, you got this. You are already doing it. It’s OK to rest and recharge, to nap. You do not have to do it all perfectly or do it the way Betty is doing it. You are already and always have been enough. Keep going, I believe in you. And Shona, I’m telling you this because I love you.”
“Empowerment is realizing how you are the one who needs to say the things
that you’ve waited your entire life to hear.” – Matt Kahn
And that’s it – simply put. Once you start being kind to yourself, you will feel an enormous weight being lifted off your shoulders. You will feel free. You will feel like you’re waking up from a dream and perhaps you will even understand the point of it all.
And, as a side-effect, in offering kindness and compassion to yourself, it becomes far easier to offer those things to others. Because you know how, and you’ve had practice.
So who’s in charge in your head? The voice of fear and lack and criticism, or the voice of hope and love and kindness?
The choice is our own, and always has been.
And this also takes time and patience and practice…so keep offering yourself relentless tenderness.
I hope that together we can build a better world for all of us, inside and out, by choosing kindness every time.