For most of my life, I pushed myself very hard. As the first child, it seemed there was never enough I could do to help my mom. When my little brothers came along, I did all I could to help with them and to cause no trouble of my own. At school, I strove for straight As. At work, I got promotions and won awards. I tried to be a perfect parent. I have been as thoughtful and loving a daughter, sister and friend as I possibly could. Etcetera.
And then one day I could do virtually nothing. All I could do was lie in a hospital bed and hope that all the things the doctors and nurses were doing would work. And from somewhere a thought came to me that I don’t remember ever having had before: “It’s okay. You’re doing all you can.”
A wave of calm and self-compassion washed over me, and it felt amazing. It was the day I really, truly learned the value of self-compassion.
Since then, I’ve had many more occasions to lie around, wishing I could do more, but instead having/getting to be okay with doing just as much as I could.
It’s a lesson that was forced on me and that I’m glad I learned. Better late than never, right?
If you ever struggle with pushy or critical thoughts from inside your own head, here are ten thoughts you could think instead. I hope you get as much relief, kindness and self-compassion as you can possibly give yourself. You deserve it. You’re worth it.
“I am doing all I can.”
“I did my best; that’s all I can do.”
“I appreciate all the effort I put into that.”
“I deserve to be as kind to myself as I am to anyone else.”
“I am worthy of love and belonging.”
“I would do more if I could, but for now this is my best effort, and that’s okay.”
“Sometimes it’s just hard.”
“I could be hard on myself or kind to myself. I choose kindness.”
“I learn from my mistakes instead of beating myself up for them.”
“Criticizing myself doesn’t help. Let me try kindness instead.”
And in case you need to hear it again, from me: You are doing all you can. You did your best, which is all you could do. You deserve to be kind to yourself. You are worthy of love and belonging. Sometimes it’s just hard. You can do more and better next time. You could be hard on yourself or kind to yourself; always choose kindness. Learn from your mistakes instead of beating yourself up.
And last but not least: the world needs more kindness. Start with yourself.