In the past week I’ve had two “suspicious” moles removed and biopsied, am scheduled for a medical procedure to rule out all the crazy things I think are lurking and just waiting to kill me, and I’m soon making a big move to live in the Chicago “burbs”, happily to be near my younger son and his family which includes the world’s little “Joy Machine” of a grandson. And, moves are no small potatoes! I’ve been busy, but there’s been plenty of time left over to systematically wonder what’s wrong with me for not being able to handle the stress better? There must be something wrong because I can conjure up any number of people that I just know would not be feeling so afraid. They would be handling it better than me. You see the problem here?
Why are we so hard on ourselves at times when our day or even days aren’t perfect, and WE aren’t perfect? When we feel sad or anxious, angry or like we’ve failed at something? Why can’t we be better at handling it we ask ourselves? We try harder and harder to manage the feelings. We do more yoga, meditate longer, walk until we have blisters…all good things to do by the way, however what works to make us truly feel better when life hands us big challenges is always compassion. It’s a word used a lot by Oprah and the Dalai Lama. Easy for them to say. Maybe if I had millions of dollars, I’d be able to cope better too. If I were celibate, being alone would give me more time to meditate. As Oprah would say, “One thing I know for sure is_______”. Well, one thing I know for certain is that it’s really hard to stop those voices that tell me I should do this all “better”.
Years ago when I went to my first therapist, she listened to me as I revealed my endless lists of “shouldas and couldas”. She looked sad when I finally stopped. Looking right into my eyes, softly and firmly she told me something that changed my life. “Donna, you have to treat yourself better and not constantly beat up on yourself. You set impossible standards to meet. Nobody could possibly live up to those.” But no matter how hard I tried to rewire that brain of mine, I couldn’t seem to do it. Then she showed me the way. I hope this will work for you too.
When I am in stressful times and feel afraid, I spin off into those old behaviors, expectations and self-criticism that sometimes can lead to self-loathing. There’s no way out when you’re in that dark place of the soul, except this…
Imagine this part of you that is frightened, anxious, sad, and frozen is a 2 year old child and you are their parent or caregiver. This sweet little one is very small and can’t soothe herself. She needs an adult now. What would you do? Yell at her? Tell her she needs to stop feeling that way? Of course not! You’d pick her up or take her sweet little hand and bend down, hug her, pick her up in your arms and rock her. That’s what you need for yourself now. When we are frightened, it’s the “little person” in us that needs to be heard and cared for. She needs compassion, not criticism. Lots and lots of compassion.
So today if you’re having a “bad one” or you’re in the midst of a big change, struggling with the flu that never ends, dealing with the loneliness of being single yet another Valentine’s Day…whatever your challenge, catch yourself when you try to shut yourself up or down and remember, there’s a little one who needs your attention and love. Stop and give that to him/her…Your sweet self. That’s what I’m gonna do. It’s worked the best of anything I’ve ever known and hope it will for you.
Tired of watching sunsets alone? Looking for someone to hold you too? I can show you the way to find a special someone to share this next amazing chapter of your life. All you need to do is be open and ready to do any and everything it takes to make loving again a reality.
Donna Bailey, MS
Coach, Speaker, Writer and Expert in Dating and Relationships for Grown-ups
Donna’s Big RED Chair