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Monday, March 9, 2020

How are you?
How has your health been this winter?
How has stress impacted you?
Are you able to be kind to yourself?

I find being kind to myself really hard.  Despite my ongoing commitment to self-care and to my own wellness, I still find it challenging to be radically kind, loving and compassionate towards myself.  I know from years of working with other people (including children), that when I am kinder to myself, I am kinder to others - especially those I am responsible for.  But still- I find it hard to take radical actions in service of my greatest good.  I find it hard to take 'time off' to just relax, to buy myself a few items of really nice clothes - and even to let myself do the things I love, that are part of who I am, such as playing music.  

Somehow, subconsciously, learned the concept of 'productivity' at all costs/ that the harder I push myself, the more results I will see/ that I should not put myself and my health first on my priority list/ that I should not listen to my body or feelings - even when they are screaming at me to rest (ie. breaking down, getting sick etc..).

And I am not talking about hard work here - or commitment to goals - these are important - I am talking about working to BEYOND the point of exhaustion, PAST the point of healthy-levels of stress into RED ZONE burnout land.

So where did I learn this?

I believe I learned first as a child, by watching my parents, the way they treated, pushed and criticized themselves, how they valued work vs. rest etc.   I also learned at school - to value achievement and competition above all else - to link these with my self-concept.  Then, I learned in the working world - to conform to machine-like demanding schedules - and to work, sometimes, without the very basic resources provided for me to do the job.

But is this healthy?

No.  I do not believe so.  I have learned over and over, through difficult experiences, health challenges, feelings of disengagement or burnout, perfectionism that does not serve me - that a BALANCE of work and rest/play, of pushing and gentleness, along with LOADS AND LOADS of self-compassion and kindness towards myself, is ultimately what helps me to feel healthier and happier, and to be more effective in my work, reaching goals and serving others.  It is not only the end game, but it is how I get there.  If it takes me longer to get where I want to go - so be it.  If I can be healthy along the way, that is worth more to me than millions of dollars.

Does being kind to myself come naturally?  

Well - not exactly.  It may have, at some point when I was a child delighting in joy and play - and yes, my parents did also foster some very good self-care habits such as sleep patterns, exercise and nutrition - but somewhere along the line, I learned some unhealthy states of mind, and ways of treating myself.

This year I have decided, as an adult, to RE-LEARN how to be kind to myself.  To RENOVATE my relationship with myself.  To get to the ROOT of what is not serving me, and to CREATE healthier ways of relating to my thoughts and feelings, and healthier patterns of living, being and working.  I feel a bit like I am in Kindergarten again - and that's OK!!!  How humbling.

I began 2020, by taking a Mindful Self Compassion course with Dr. Heidi Walk -  This has been absolutely groundbreaking.  I am already experiencing results.  Powerful ones - in how I am feeling, in the way I relate to others and solve problems.  Amazing.  It is not easy, though - ironically, it has been hard work to do this emotional-mining and to learn to be kinder.  But there is a big payoff, that will last me for years to come, especially if I keep practicing.  I believe everyone in the whole world should have a chance to take this kind of course!!!!  

May you be kind to yourself, even in small ways - baby steps count.  Can you start with one small thing this spring?

I would love to hear from you,

xo Marni
marni@marnilevitt.com 
416-910-3114