There was a bit of a lull on my blogs recently. I was tired. I’d been working too hard. And I didn’t feel inspired. Then today, I asked myself, “What has really inspired me during the last few weeks?” and it was a talk by my friend Alison at the Yoga Centre in Hebden Bridge. A talk on loving kindness. I’ve written about this a bit already, but the talk continues to resonate with me.
The loving kindness we were talking about was in relation to ourselves. It didn’t mean showing loving kindness to other people. Just as the emergency instructions when you go on a plane say, you need to help yourself firstbeforeyou help those around you.
In the last few weeks, after I’d heard Alison’s talk, I suddenly became aware of all the ways I am not kind to myself. It started with clothes. I was allowing myself to wear clothes that I didn’t feel good in. And then I went round thinking how frumpy and unattractive I was.
For some reason, since I was a teenager, buying new clothes has always brought feelings of guilt. I’ve always felt bad about spending money on myself. I don’t know where this comes from, but I’ve tried to shake it off this month and treated myself to a few things from the John Lewis sale. I’ve had my hair done and started wearing make-up more often.
As I reflected on what being kind to myself really means, I thought about the “treats” that we often give ourselves. That chocolate cake with a bit of cream… that bottle of wine… the Chinese take-away… Those are treats that might seem nice for the few minutes whilst they’re being consumed, but aren’t kind in the long run. I became suddenly aware of what I was eating. Junk food. Fatty food. Convenience food. I hardly ever got my five a day. So it’s fruits, vegetables, salads and fish from now on, and the weird thing is that I’m actually enjoying it.
I have difficult skin. I’ve had eczema and dry skin since I was little and have just accepted it as a fact of life. But it isn’t. There are things I can do to improve my condition: taking time to moisturise, for example, and taking the right vitamins. And last night, I even treated myself to a couple of herbal skin creams to see if they help.
Sleep is another thing. I don’t get enough of it, and then I feel tired, or worse still, I get migraines. So last night I treated myself to an early night with a good book and a mug of milk. And that’s going to be a more regular occurence from now on.
Even the state of my room reflected, I think, the way I see myself. I have too many clothes and often things don’t get put away because my wardrobe and drawers are bulging. Just tidying up and making my environment a bit nicer was a way of being kind to myself.
Finally, I noticed how I “talked” to myself. I don’t mean that I walk round the house talking to myself like a mad woman. But I began to notice how often I put myself down, either in my thoughts or out loud to other people. I say things to myself or about myself that I’d never dream of saying to or about someone else. I wouldn’t say to a friend, “You’re crap at relationships! You’ll never meet the right man!” So why do I constantly tell myself that?
It’s not easy changing the habits of a lifetime but I think it’ll prove worthwhile and it’s quite a fun challenge in the meantime! So thanks Alison for the inspiration!