Self-Compassion is Required if you Plan to Care for Others

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T. 
This time of the year can be challenging for me, and based on past experience, I know that’s true.  It’s not because I have more commitments due to the holidays.  Though, that is frequently true, as well.  It’s not because I have less time.  It’s actually because I have more.
Let me explain.
It’s been really nice to be off the road for a few weeks but, to be completely honest, I find that I  accomplish more when I’m in my routine.  MY routine is traveling, teaching, and working from 0530 – 2300.  Without a schedule, or any type of deadlines, I tend to just flitter about and I actually accomplish very little.
You might think my schedule sounds crazy because yours might be very different than mine.  The fact is, when we’re thrown off our normal routine – whatever is typical for us – it can be difficult to get our footing.
 That’s when I find that I put things off until the last minute.
I create false deadlines to motivate myself.
I try to “make myself” do things even though I don’t feel like it.
This approach doesn’t work so well and I’m trying to do less of it this year.
I’m trying to focus on showing myself some kindness.
 I haven’t yet found the time to update my 2016 handbooks, make all of the travel arrangements I need to, update contracts, re-do my website, or a dozen other things.
BUT, I’ve accomplished some.
I’ve actually taken time to relax.  A “task” that typically stresses me out, to be honest.  It seems like such a luxury.  I’ve volunteered for a bunch of new things and really stepped outside of my comfort zone with a few of these projects.  Rather than stressing out, each evening, about what didn’t get done, I reflect on what I have accomplished.
Regardless of whether it was – a lot or a little – there’s always something.  I pat myself on the back.  I’m showing myself some kindness.
We have such a hard time with that, don’t we?  I mean, we really struggle sometimes.
We do amazing things for the people we love.  Not so much as a second thought.  We put them first.  We even put strangers before ourselves.   We come last – if at all.  Otherwise we feel guilty.  We feel like we’re not good parents.  We’re not a good spouse.  We’re not good roommates or friends.
We’re simply not good people.  We’re selfish.
I know the feeling.  Trust me!  I am better than ANYONE at heaping guilt on myself.
It’s exhausting.  It’s frustrating.  And it’s bullshit.
What if I told you that if you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not doing a good job taking care of anyone else, either.
 You don’t take time to eat, because you’re busy getting dinner ready for everybody else; and then there are the dishes, the laundry, the clients…  
===> Best case, you’re tired and unfocused.  Worst case, you’re h-angry, miserable, and lose your patience with family and friends.  The very people you’re trying to help.
You don’t take time to exercise, because you have so much other stuff to do.
===> Best case, you’re tired and feel a little blah.  Worst case, you become
de-conditioned, start to gain weight, don’t feel your best, and/or get incredibly depressed.
You don’t take time to just sit for five minutes, be quiet and breathe.
===> There’s just a worst case for for this one.  You’re exhausted.  You’re frustrated.  You’re depressed.  Sure, you folded the laundry, did the dishes, sat out everything for tomorrow, completed that big project you volunteered for at work (because no one can do it even half as well as you can….been there.  Done that).  You did all of the things you were “supposed to”!  You are super woman.  But; rather than being able to enjoy the company of your family, you start to resent them.  You can’t wait for it to all be over so that you can just sink into bed.
Let me ask you this.  What if you didn’t fold the laundry?  What if the dishes sat until tomorrow night?
What if you took 30 minutes for yourself?  Would the world, as you know it, end?  Doubtful.
More likely, you’d feel better.  You’d be more positive.  You’d have more energy to do some of those other things.
One thing that can make a huge difference is taking the time to workout.  For your body, but also for your mind.  For your emotion.  For your mental health.  It doesn’t have to be in a gym.  It doesn’t have to be lifting weights.  It doesn’t have to be “a program”.  It has to be something you enjoy where you move your body, you elevate your heart rate a little bit, and you receive some endorphins in that blood stream of yours!
I know when we get tired, bored, have too much to do, or too much unmotivated time on our hands, it’s incredibly easy for “luxuries” like working out, to be the first to go.  We exercise only IF we can fit it in.  Sadly, we can rarely fit it in.  When we’ll do it only after everything else is done, we’re not going to do it.  Period.  End of story.
I think we’re looking at it in the wrong way.
Exercise isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.
Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish; it’s required.
Mandatory.  Necessary.  Like food, water, and air……
Don’t believe me?  Think of a time when you were actually (able) to eat well, to exercise, to take care of yourself.  How did you feel?  How much different more energy did you have for taking care of everybody (and everything) else?
So, it sounds great.  You believe me.  Now, how do you ensure you keep the commitment to yourself?
One way is to insist on it.  I mean, if f you don’t, you can’t really get upset that others don’t think about it.
Here’s a somewhat silly, real example.  When I get up in the morning, I like to take 20 or 30 minutes and ease into my day.  I sip a cup of coffee.  I may read.  I think about my intention for the day.  Even on workdays, I add in this time by getting up earlier.  My family knows I’m going to do this.  I was at my daughter’s a few months ago, enjoying my morning.  My 8 year old grandson was downstairs with me – he was also reading.  His 4 year old brother decided to get up early and came downstairs.  I said, “Good morning, Blake” and gave him a hug.  Hayden immediately said, “Blake, this is gramma’s quiet time.  We need to play quietly until she finishes her coffee.”
No big deal.  No drama.  It’s just something I’ve established as a norm.  They get it.
Another way is to purposely plan for it.
 As I’m setting my intention for the day, I look at my schedule.
  • When will I have time to workout today?  Even if it’s only 15 – 20 minutes.  When?
  • I immediately pull out my phone and set an alarm for 20-30 minutes before my workout.
  • When that alarm goes off, no matter if I’m “in the middle of something” or whatever (and this is why I set it 20-30 minutes ahead of time) I wrap that up, and I get ready to work out.


Sometimes I go to the gym, sometimes I go to my basement, sometimes I go to yoga, sometimes I go for a walk, but I DO keep that appointment – as stringently as I would if the appointment was with a client or my doctor.

I’m showing myself some kindness.
Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 1.42.53 PM

Kindness & Self-Compassion Get you some!!

You need to remember to do the same.
Every day.  Every season.
But it’s especially important at this time of the year.
The holidays.  Family, friends, food – or the lack of all of those things – can be very stressful.  The tumultuous time when one year is ending and the new one hasn’t yet begun.
Show yourself some kindness.
You’re so very worth it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.