Lately, when I get comments from my lovely readers, kind words of encouragement or even congratulations I find these words incredibly difficult to read. I find reading complimentary messages extremely uncomfortable. I know deep down, that the reason for this is that during my darker times, I find it almost impossible not to completely discount and ignore anything positive about myself.
I have simply got to stop doing this.
You’ll be pleased to know that in the past two weeks I’ve started feeling much more like myself again. Coming “out the other side” always seems to result in me feeling a little shell-shocked and contemplative. So I’ve taken the time to read back through the messages of support and try to digest them, to take them on board.
My readers are a very supportive bunch indeed. In my darkest hour you congratulated me on my bravery and honesty. You pointed out that I can’t right all of the wrongs in the world, but that I am a force of good. You told me (correctly) that brighter days are coming. You are proud of me and most of you have never met me.
Writing those things down myself makes me cringe. But I am sharing them, because I need to know that they are true. They. Are. True.
On my birthday last week I asked you to share some of the things that you’re proud of about yourselves. I loved reading your responses. You spoke of your pride at getting stronger and stronger despite getting continually knocked down. You told me about your inner strength and resilience. You are so proud of the little people who you’re shaping and moulding. You ask for help when you need it. You are kind and you are loyal. You recognise these strengths in yourselves and you shared them me.
In reading the attributes you like about yourselves, if I’m truly honest with myself, I see many of those characteristics within me. But I find them very difficult to accept. I struggle with seeing myself as worthy. I discount positives.
I write so much here about kindness. To ourselves and to others. But I, for one find self-kindness really difficult. Much of this will be driven by my ongoing struggles with depression but some of it has simply always been there, simmering away under the surface.
Here’s what I’m trying to say and trying to remind myself and my readers:
I am Enough
You are Enough
We are Enough
We don’t need to be perfect. In fact, I truly believe that perfection is a myth. You never really achieve it, like chasing a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It just moves away a bit further, the closer you get.
Compassion and Self-Kindness
I think most of us could really benefit from practicing more self-compassion. If a friend came to me, for example, and told me that she felt she was failing as a mother, because her children eat too much processed food and spend too much time on the iPad, I’d remind her that those are just two small pieces of the parenting puzzle. I’d tell her that her children had lovely manners, were kind and considerate, shared nicely, were always a pleasure to have at my house. That my children always look forward to play-dates with her kids. I’d remind her that she’s doing a great job.
See, really, the friend I just mentioned is me. These are some of my worries. I should not be beating myself up. I need to be as good a friend to myself as I am to my friends. I would never berate them for allowing their toddler to happily sit with an iPad whilst she gets a few important jobs done, for example. I need to practice more self-kindness.
Dr. Brene Brown defines Self Kindness as “Being warm and understanding towards ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self criticism”.
We need to treat ourselves as we would our friends. We need to be more compassionate to ourselves and remember that We Are Enough.
Every little thing we do as parents has substance. It is important. WE are important. I am important. We matter. Very much indeed.
The endless laundry keeps our children are clean and warm. The cooking (that they often turn their noses up at) keeps them sustained. The cleaning gives them comfortable and safe surroundings. It all matters. The stressful school-runs and fighting to zip-up coats on moving children. It matters. The stories and the picking-up of toys and clothes, the endless wiping of noses, bottoms and sides, it matters. We matter.
What we do, day in, day out is so important. We do so much. We are partners, parents, siblings, daughters, friends, colleagues… the list is endless. We matter. We Are Enough.
If we don’t start believing this, we will in all likelihood never feel clever enough, pretty enough, slim enough, rich enough, (insert your own inadequacy here) enough.
I hereby resolve to tell myself, each day, several times a day, that I am Enough. There will always be more cleaning to do, there will usually be a load of washing in the machine that needs to be re-run as it’s been in there for three days and is starting to smell. There will always be something to iron. I will usually be wearing odd socks. Still, I am Enough, and You are Enough.
In her book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ Dr. Brown quotes Christopher K Gerner:
“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change your life“.
Rather than berating myself for all that I haven’t achieved today, I am going to practice reminding myself of all I have done.
My children are (usually) happy and content. I am proud of my marriage. I have amazing friends. I am a good friend. I am a good wife. I am a good mother, sister and daughter. There is food on the table, a roof over our heads and love in our hearts. We are healthy, and I am grateful. I am enough. You are enough.
We may be stretch-marked and muffin-topped. We may have dirty floors and mis-matched underwear. We may have disorganised cupboards and un-painted toe-nails. We may have frizzy hair and baby sick/snot/banana down our tops at all times. We are Perfectly Imperfect, my friends, and We are Enough.
I’d love your thoughts on this, so please leave a comment below!