I’m in the midst of a deep and thorough internal re-wiring process. For most of my life I was proud of how hard I drove myself, the high standards to which I held myself and others, and my ability to get through just about anything. Alone these aren’t good or bad traits. What’s being rewired is the force with which I push myself. I’m giving gentleness a try and finding some pretty incredible results.
My internal conversation used to sound something like this: “Well, that was a mistake! Now, what caused it to happen, how did I contribute and what did I learn?” With a very subtle “you dummy” in the background after each question, I’d dig into the answers. What usually happened is I’d never find a real solution, meaning or lesson because the harsh judgment made me keep digging and digging – often starting around 3am every night.
Now the conversation sounds more like this: “Well, that was a mistake! Now, what caused it to happen, how did I contribute and what did I learn?” with a very explicit, “sweetheart” at the end of each question. I know, that sounds pretty corny and weak… and still it’s truly amazing what happens when I can be that gentle with myself. Rather than a downward spiral of self-judgment piled on top of the mistake, an upward spiral of compassion and kindness begins, getting me that much closer to a peaceful place. Even one without a resolution.
I’m finding that everyone has a version of this conversation and uniquely harsh descriptor words. And we’ve been doing it for so long, the undercurrent of beating ourselves up is ever so subtle and destructive.
When gentleness to ourselves is unconditional – there is no situation in which we can’t be kind and tender with our humanity – our outlook changes. And the ripple effect is that we begin being more kind to other people around us. That is true bravery! Whatever your skepticism right now, I challenge you to join me and give it a try for one week and see what happens.