The pandemic is teaching us that yes, we are a global community…not separate, or isolated, but neighbors reinventing how to stay connected and pay attention to what is happening in the hood of Mother Earth. It is now that time of year to take a breath, and as you exhale, think about all the lessons and experiences this past year has brought us. Welcome in all the enjoyable, the troubling, the achievements, the embarrassments, and the surprises…
The year 2020 will be remembered and studied as the year we lost 1.5 million people globally who died during a pandemic, racial unrest that brought us to tears, and democracy, decency, and truth telling itself have been put through extraordinary tests.
For those who struggle with anxiety, depression, trauma, substance abuse, or have lost a loved one due to Covid or some other health crises, the months have put us all a in a major mental health/stress management challenge. That may appear as having difficulty managing emotions, reactive rage, getting upset over things that normally do not bother you, a sense of loss or purpose in living, or it may look like a full-on dive into drug or alcohol abuse, or relapse of behavioral addictions (spending, gambling, disordered eating, prescription drug abuse, drug and alcohol abuse).
The challenge is: How do we let go of this year while holding plenty of space for self-care and compassion for others? How about starting with meeting each other as living and loving beings, and treating each other with kindness and nice cream.
Knowing that life can be difficult at times, what we can put into action is: setting aside opinions, prejudices, and taking sides. We can embrace flexibility and patience. We can honor and respect each other even if we do not agree. During these past nine months we have learned and witnessed that political, social, and religious opinions only separate us and pull on our own heartstrings, but everyone else’s as well. That being said, we are about to enter the Winter Solstice on December 21st, the darkest time of the year, and December 17th marks the last 15 days of the yeaer, when we can we begin journaling what we want to undo and do differently, thereby planting the seeds for 2021. What we also can do is embrace the freedom to experience and create the life we want with our thoughts (choose carefully and wisely). Remember our beliefs become our experience. We are all blessed with the freedom to create the life we want.
It is About Being Loving and Loving Yourself
Remember when we used to fly? The flight attendants would remind us in the event of turbulence, that we may need to put on oxygen masks (and by now we are used to wearing masks) and we are reminded to make sure we have ours on first. The fact that we have to be reminded to make sure we can breathe first may have to do with that it seems easier to be compassionate and empathetic towards others, but hard or forgetful to give ourselves the same respect. This can sometimes be due to self-talk that sounds like: “They deserve compassion and respect, I don’t” Or “They need this more than I do, I can wait.” Most of us can’t give a concrete answer as to why we feel this way. It seems to be a deep lack of self-love, self-esteem, or can be codependency for reasons mostly unknown.
When we lack self-esteem and self-compassion, we look externally to receive this approval or acceptance from others. We may think that if we excel in school or work, if we are popular, if we have nice things and look attractive, we will feel accepted and liked. Over time though we discover that even if we achieve all of these things, there is still something missing. That emptiness feels like “I’m still not good enough,” and so we cling to the external things for reassurance that at least we are good at something.
Whatever our reasons, healing begins with the ability to hold ourselves with love and compassion. If that sounds impossible- it’s not. But it does take some practice. Why not try it now, as we leave 2020 behind and look forward to a brighter year ahead? Don’t be skeptical or let the chatter of the mind hold you back. Remember the time to act is now! What are you waiting for? Are you ready to hack your beliefs? Here shift happens!
Ten Steps to Self-Compassion
Healing and self-care are investments in yourself. It is a decision to put yourself first and learn to love the person you are. There are many ways to accomplish this, but here are ten steps that can get you started:
- Practice compassion! That’s right, resolve right now to speak to yourself kindly and gently. Give yourself some grace. Treat yourself to nice cream!
- Invest in healing and self-care. This means taking care of your health, seeing a therapist/sponsor/coach/spiritual advisor regularly, seeking connection, and being accountable for your journey to wellness (zoom is awesome for staying connected).
- Take care of your body! Eat well (we are on stay at home orders so embrace cooking!), move in ways that bring you joy (walk the dog or you around the neighborhood), and learn how to rest (try YogaFun™ Nidra). Learn what it feels like to have your body’s needs respected and learn to cherish occupying the body that is taking you on this journey through life.
- Practice mindfulness (what does this mean?). Learn to enjoy each moment as it comes (watch the sun rise, take a class online, read, listen to music you love as you clean out that closet).
- Recognize and honor your feelings. Make space for them and allow yourself to experience and express them.
- Cultivate your interests and hobbies. Make time for the things you love to do and that bring you joy.
- Practice kind self-talk. Work with a therapist/sponsor/wise being to develop skills to challenge your negative thoughts and replace them with affirmations like: I am strong, focused, determined…I am limitless.
- Develop a relationship with your body, mind, and spirit, that is built on acceptance and respect, and love…do not let the mind talk you out of this.
- Know the things and people that trigger you and have a plan to not react or give them power. In fact learn and practice saying no. No puts you in charge of what you want to do or not.
- Work to accept yourself, your genetics, your mistakes (we all make mistakes…this does not mean we are a mistake), your aspirations, and all of the wonderful, unique things that make you the only you (precious being) on this planet.
Planting the Seeds
If you can take small steps each day keeping to a schedule of self-care, toward developing self-compassion and self-love, you will be well on your way to a healthier and happier new year. Sometimes it is helpful to create a special ritual to help you let go of the past and move into a new space. You can create this ritual on your own or you can find a group that has something planned as we move out of the darkness and into the light- Here Comes the Sun!
It is possible to let go of this year, and of everything holding you back. Make the time today to commit to learning to love yourself….take one small step right now. You are loved, you are held in the embrace of a Universe that cherishes you. Give yourself some grace and step out into the light of the new horizons just ahead. You won’t regret it.