Am I being too hard on myself?
I think it’s largely a rhetorical question but one with merit nonetheless. I’m thinking a lot on the idea of wellness, and all of the tricks/tips/best practices that are swirling around on the Internet these days.
One of the tips that I found interesting came via Garance Doré’s podcast, Pardon My French in a mini episode with Daphne Javitch. Both women have perspectives on their body and their health that differ from my own, and several points from the podcast stuck with me.
The most impactful, if perhaps the least new or surprising, was Javitch’s insistence that we monitor ourselves as we would a three year old niece. I’ve heard this kind of idea before around negative self-talk and around healthy habits, i.e. “Would you talk that way to a young version of yourself?” but that frame of mind hasn’t worked for me. One of my main challenges with it is that I’ve been (irresponsibly) harsh with myself for years – if I wasn’t kind to myself before, even at a younger age, then it’s hard to buy into the idea that I would have treated my younger self better.
But taking care of myself with the same guidelines I would use for a young family member? Or a close friend? That resonated with me. A few hours after listening to the podcast, I was on the phone with a friend who is in the weird space between talking with someone and officially going on a date. In the midst of our conversation, I sat back and really heard myself talk with her, and I realised that I was being much gentler and kinder with her than I had ever been to myself.
That drove home the point for me; if I’m still learning to be kind to myself as myself, perhaps I can start by being as kind to myself as I would be to a friend.
As I’m finishing my thesis and moving to the next stage of my career, I want to keep that perspective in mind as my plans form and reform themselves. A friend in Scotland took 6 months to find a job when she moved there, and I encouraged her, commiserated with her, and celebrated with her (her first day was last week!) every step of the way. Let me remember how I treated her as I enter my own job search this summer.
As I’m in the midst of some difficult post-friendship grieving and rebuilding, I want to draw on that perspective in thinking about myself and my relationships. If I would be outraged for a friend in my position, and gentle, understanding, conscientious, and kind with them, then I need to try and adopt that perspective on myself.
Let me remember that if I believe that it’s OK for my friends to make mistakes, to try again, and to grow messily or imperfectly, then that same imperfection is something I can allow (and celebrate) in myself as well.