on being gentle {with yourself}

Gentleness…

The word came to mind as I was lying on the couch, for about the 10th straight hour that day. I didn’t have the mental or physical energy to get up. And I was mad at myself for it. There was so much to do. The New Year had begun and somehow, I had not. I felt stuck, paralyzed by too much potential, too many ideas, and not enough time.

January is a hard month. It’s not just getting back into routines… it’s that for the last few months you’ve been working towards something, whether you were excited for family or dreading tough conversations. We end the prior year making plans for the “better” us - how we’ll work towards being healthy, being present, paying off debt, keeping our homes clean. Some are plans for outer renovations, some for inner improvements.

So here we are, only 9 days into 2019, exhausted from the expectations of November and December… and exhausted from the expectations we have already failed to meet of the new year. My word for 2019 is “Prayer” and I have never been so resistant to pray as I have been these last few days. Why? Because, like you, I’ve gotten pulled into the cycle of wanting to do better, not living up to it, and then shaming myself for it… on repeat. And because I’ve continued to shame myself, I want to try less and less, until I give up completely.

So I’m proposing a different kind of New Year resolution. What if we threw a curveball into this vicious cycle? Stay with me- you’re thinking “okay- yes! I’ll just follow through this time and meet those goals! I’ll plan better, I’ll try harder, and then I’ll get there!”…. and surprise!; you find yourself right back where you started. But I’m talking about changing a very different part of the pattern.

What if we treated ourselves the way we treat our loved ones? Instead of saying “do better”… what if we approached our failures with understanding and gentleness. When your best friend doesn’t lose those 5 pounds, do you tell her she’s not good enough? (I hope not!) You would probably say something like, “It’s okay! You still look great. You’re human and it’s been a hard few weeks. Don’t beat yourself up.”

In 2019… be kind to yourself. Show yourself the understanding you would to a dear friend. You spent a few days in bed, crying and confused? It’s okay. You’re still snacking on Christmas cookies? It’s okay. You didn’t make the time for prayer or the gym? It’s okay. Tomorrow is a new day. This world is hard enough to walk through without you telling yourself you’re not enough.

In honor of the new year, I’ve created two new prints, to remind you to be gentle with yourself. I’ll be putting them up next to my bathroom mirror- the place where I go to “improve” little bits of myself- a touch of concealer here, a “suck it in” there… the thoughts that surround not being enough. I would love to see where you put them too, and I’m praying that they gently remind you… to be gentle with yourself.