The warm sunshine streaming through my window this morning is a powerful reminder of how desperately I need more compassion in my life. The frozen, snow-covered ground and brisk, dry air await outside my doorstep but so does the light and warmth of our glorious sun. My intention today is to allow the sun to shine light on the places where I’m weighed down by regrets or missed opportunities. It’s a wake-up call to start fresh each new day.
I began my day feeling less hopeful. I was aware of analyzing and judging my words and behaviors and those of others, including some people I’ve never even met. I felt fearful of missed opportunities to connect, discuss and support my family and friends. The lightbulb went on for me while stretching on my yoga mat. As I focused on letting go of tension in my body, I envisioned breathing out labels and stories I’ve been clinging to about myself that are weighing me down.
A key principle of Real-Time Parenting came to mind and helped my energy shift: the clean slate theory. This principle gives our children another chance to try again without carrying the burden of past mistakes. The clean slate theory is available to all of us. It’s a powerful tool for finding more compassion for yourself and others. It doesn’t matter that New Year’s Day has come and gone. Today is an opportunity to start anew. When I let this idea wash over me, I am filled with warmth and self-compassion.
I am practicing forgiving myself because forgiveness creates the opportunity for more compassion. I am aware of being much less forgiving to myself than I am to my loved ones. When I get down on myself and ruminate on what I wish I had done differently, I feel small and weak. As a mother, I can tune into forgiveness by recalling a time my child bravely apologized to me. I can also imagine myself as a small child who earnestly wants to do well. These reflections soften my grip and loosen my expectations. I’m comforted by the wisdom of others, such as Maya Angelou, who said, “You forgive yourself for every failure because you are trying to do the right thing. God knows that and you know it. Nobody else may know it.”
I can bring more compassion into my life by intentionally caring for myself. I believe micro-moments of self-care have a powerful impact. I am inspired by other parents who practice simple strategies that make a big difference in their energy level and mindset. Some examples are playing with their pet, cuddling with their sweetie, slowly enjoying a favorite cup of tea, singing along to a favorite song, texting with a dear friend, watching a funny video clip. Research proves we can create new habits even as adults. The key is to notice the activity gives you a boost and is worth fitting in to your routine.
As a parent coach, I’m fond of saying “test it out.” So, this week, I invite you to think about small activities that make you feel happy or relaxed and then schedule time to do one or two. It may help to write down the activity on a sticky note or place a reminder in your phone. As you practice treating yourself with more compassion and kindness, notice how it impacts your experience. How did you feel during and after the self-care activity? What did you notice about your energy level?
When I treat myself with more compassion, I notice I have more compassion to give to others. I’m a much more relaxed and fun mother after my weekly yoga class or a walk with a dear friend. I encourage you to explore if the same is true for you. Do you interact differently with your child or partner immediately after doing a self-care activity? When something brings us energy and connection, it is easier to make it a habit. Pay attention to what you notice as you practice bringing more compassion to your life each new day.