Therapist tasked me with the challenge of kindness this week. And what’s so difficult about that I hear you ask? Well, it wasn’t kindness in general she was talking about. It was kindness to myself. This one is tricky. This one has always been tricky. Mostly, when I decide to be kind to myself it means I’m allowed to eat whatever I want, be that cake, chocolate or the occasional maccy d’s binge (don’t judge me, I’ve always had a weakness for salty carbs). But, I’m not all that sure that’s that what she had in mind, particularly since kindness of the food based variety is generally swiftly followed by guilt. But that’s a story for another day.
You see lately, (and I know I’ve mentioned this a few times) I’ve found myself in the strange world of transference, a particular joy that comes with long term psychotherapy. What’s tough about this one is that on a rational level, I know what it is, I know it’s completely normal and in fact a good thing, and it means that things are going well. On an emotional level? Ouch. Massive, confusing ouch. Some days I want her to be my mother, some days my husband, some days my friend (I appreciate that this all sounds a bit strange but bear with me). Basically I’m projecting my needs at any given time on to her, which is how it works. So what’s the problem? Well the problem is that every time, and I mean every, single, time, that I find myself doing this, I get really angry and frustrated with myself, tell myself that it’s inappropriate, that it’s weird, that I have my boundaries really confused, that it’s not working any more etc etc etc (I know you’ve heard all this before as well). So I think when she was talking about kindness this week, she may have meant that rather than mentally beating myself up every time my thoughts head in that direction, that maybe I should just stop and acknowledge it for the process that it is. Accept that it’s a normal, albeit incredibly uncomfortable, part of long term therapy, and that I’m not actually doing anything wrong. Hmm. On paper that sounds so easy. In practice??? Work in progress. Slow, slow progress.
I asked a question today on my facebook page – ‘how are you kind to yourself?’ The answers I got were really interesting, and very varied. I don’t want to quote them here without permission, but what I found interesting was that people were all on very different stages of the same journey. Some, like me, struggle to be kind to themselves at all, some use food, some use time……….I wonder how it came about that we feel unworthy of treating ourselves with kindness in the first place? Is it seen as weakness? Or perhaps selfishness? I think that might be closer to it actually, the ol’ ‘self praise is no praise’ school of thought. But how about this – If we aren’t able to be kind to ourselves, how can we ever be truly, selflessly kind to others?
I’ll leave you with this image I just found. I love it, absolutely love it. How many of us are actually able to look in the mirror, and not only like what we see, but actively love what we see? And I’m not just talking about the surface reflection here, I mean the very essence of ourselves. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?