When I went back to work after having my second daughter recently, I thought that I could jump back in where I left off without consequence. I mean, I have done this job for years and years and of course nothing has changed.
But everything had changed. I had a second baby 6 years apart from my first so it was almost like being a brand new mom again. We had to get used to a new routine of getting everyone out the door and to their respective places for the day. I had to make sure I was all packed up for all the things I needed to get through my work days too. It was exhausting and overwhelming and I fell into a deep anxiety spiral. Seemingly overnight I couldn’t eat, I certainly couldn’t sleep and I was miserable. After reaching out to some fellow mom friends and my obstetrician, I decided to seek out counseling for the first time in my life.
I was very lucky and found a therapist that I completely trust and feel like she’s the right fit for me after the first meeting (after waiting 5 weeks for an intake but that’s a whole post for another day). She made me feel understood and that I was not in this alone. She then suggested a mindfulness group that was just starting. Mindfulness (here’s a link to some great TED Talks on the topic) was something I had been interested in and thought I would benefit from so I joined. It has been so rewarding, challenging and helpful. Fast forward a few months and I’m now in an Advanced Mindfulness group and this week we talked about self compassion.
Self compassion is so important to live a happy and healthy life. As the illustration above by Jo Byrne, based on Kristin Neff‘s wonderful research on the topic shows, it is the key to a happy life. We need to be kind to ourselves in order to connect with others and be present. However; it’s not an easy thing to do. We can be our own worst critics. I find myself saying things to myself that are not true and not kind and which I would never want someone else to say about my kids, or husband, or friends. It’s how I ended up in my anxiety spiral. The great news is that we can train our minds to not be so critical of ourselves, take care of ourselves and then we can take care of others. The whole, you can’t fill someone else’s cup from an empty vessel. I am a better daughter, wife, mom, employee and friend when I am able to take care of myself.
One of the exercises I have come up with over the next 7 days is to give myself 3 compliments or affirmations each day. It’s not as easy as it seems. It’s so much easier to give someone else complements than to be kind to ourselves. Here are the first three I came up with:
- I am empathetic to others
- I am easily amused and love to laugh
- I am fiercely loyal
Ok, now your turn. What are three compliments you can give to yourself?