I have been talking about self-kindness in my last few posts. Self-kindness vs. self-judgment is the first component of the Self-Compassion Model (see menu at top). I have broken it down into 3 topics – Self-Kindness and the Self-Critic, Self-Kindness and Self-Talk and now Self-Kindness and Gestures.
What I mean by gestures is two-fold. Let me give you an example. I often don’t like getting up in the morning and facing last night’s dishes. However, I don’t really like doing my dishes in the evening either. (Okay, okay, when exactly do I enjoy doing dishes, if ever? Somewhere in between those times of course. However, that’s not really important here). I have decided that if some evenings I could see my way to doing those dishes that I would be making a kind gesture towards my ‘Morning Self’. Now I have a new reason for doing dishes at night. But … I don’t put any pressure on myself to do them in the evening so I can later beat myself up because I didn’t do the dishes. I have built into this practice that it is only when I feel so inclined to do the dishes. There is no expectation whatsoever to do them the night before. After all my “Evening Self” is usually kinda pooped and just wants to relax.
So when I feel I can do those evening dishes, and I do think about it knowing that it will be easier on my poor Morning Self, I do them. And if I don’t feel like it my Morning Self says ‘Hey, I get it. When you don’t feel like it you don’t feel like it. Don’t worry about it. I am fine about doing them in the morning.” Overall, this makes doing dishes change from being a chore to one of a possible gesture of kindness towards myself. And even identifying these two parts of me – the Morning Self and the Evening Self – I create a dialogue within. As well, it’s not a conflict between these two parts but rather them working together for the benefit of all of me.
The point is we can create gestures of kindness for ourselves. We do them already every day but don’t recognize them as gestures of kindness. Whenever we take care of a need that we have we are being kind to ourselves. Taking a bath, relaxing and reading a really good book, making a wonderful cup of tea. These are the simple gestures we can do everyday. Also, when we are more conscious of them as gestures, when we think of them in terms of a conscious act of kindness towards ourselves we might begin to recognize the self-compassion that does already exist in us. We don’t need to go looking for it.
Soothing ourselves is another type of gesture we can do especially when we are in emotional pain. Putting our hand on our heart and speaking soothing words to ourselves can be soothing and comforting. “Caer, I know you are in a lot of pain right now. I’m right here with you. I am sorry you are hurting so much now.” We can also hug ourselves. We can do this in private of course but just wrapping our arms around ourselves when we are hurting can be quite soothing as well. And we can say the same comforting words then.
Crying can also be a gesture – one of compassion for the sufferer. In our SC group when someone cries and yet tells me they feel no compassion for themselves I wonder who the tears are for then? Who are they sad for? Crying seems to be a release of something held within for too long. It’s absolutely an act of kindness towards ourselves to feel our sorrows.