“Be Kind To Yourself”
Be Kind to Yourself
While in meditation one morning with my eyes closed, I decided to focus my attention on ME. I randomly attempted to visualize my face. To my own surprise, I could see nothing. I tried again w full awareness. Now I was able to see some vague image of myself which was more like an image a police sketch artist would create when a third person describes what the suspect looks like. Basically, my conscious mind was making a list of my facial characteristics such as a big forehead, thinning hair, dark circles, dry lips, etc (yup, all negatives) and I went on forming the image of myself with great difficulty. Its then I realized how far I had come from myself. I felt sorry for myself.
Motherhood was not at all what I thought it would be. It was 2.5 years of sheer misery. (My daughter is 33 months old now). As much as I wanted to not have my life revolve around my daughter 24×7, it ended up being just that. My daughter was all around a very difficult child and I was her only and primary caretaker. I put myself through a lot of abuse as I could never prioritize my needs over my daughter’s endless needs. For example, I would hold my pee for hours to not disturb her sleep if she is sleeping with me. My career, sleep, showers, workout, diet, friends, entertainment nothing came before her needs. It had taken a huge toll on me. If I took that degree of commitment to the workplace, I would be celebrated, but as a mother who is raising a very helpless and innocent human that is our next generation, I was only getting judged by my friends and family and called names like helicopter mom, obsessive mom. To add to the ridiculousness of that, a large part of me judged myself for failing to make motherhood look effortless. Us, women are inherently good at hiding our struggles. It’s a shame on part of the whole modern society that fails to acknowledge immense sacrifices mothers make when they sign up to be the primary caretaker of the child that is the next generation and should be the collaborative responsibility of the whole society.
I must say that it was that complete devotion that helped me achieve a lot as a mother, I helped my daughter come out of two serious chronic health conditions, and I share the most amazing bond with her. Motherhood helped me to experience what a complete devotion to a job is. And how transformative that experience has been! Everything I do now has so much more depth with a high degree of commitment and purpose. Also with complete selflessness and devotion to the point of insanity, I was finally able to forget everything I knew about me. It was now apparent to me that I needed to go back to me and be a lot kinder to me. How amazing it was to be able to start with a complete state of not-knowing.
“Be kind to yourself” – is the most popular advice of 21st century given to women left and right. (I doubt if men go around telling each other to be kind to themselves, and I now wonder why not) It’s like a daily horoscope in the newspaper, you assume people will have their own interpretation of what that means and hence will somehow just do it. But it is far from obvious. At least I didn’t know where to begin. I started googling exactly what you do to be kind to yourself, came across a lot of ideas, but I wanted to create my own blueprint for being kind to myself which I would like to share with you. I would also like to urge you to not take any shortcuts such as going for shopping, occasional me-time and other quick fixes, rather really introspect your life path and value system and figure out your own blueprint.
Knowing oneself is essentially the purpose of life. You can not figure out your blueprint until you really know yourself. I thought I knew myself, but marriage and motherhood had changed me so much. I needed to relook at the person I am now. So I started paying attention to me, things like what do I really look like, what clothes look good on me, what is my ideal me-time, my life purpose, my most basic needs, things that lifted me and things that drained my energies, type of role model I wanted to be for my daughter, my value system etc
This one is a must. We become our worst enemies when we keep carrying the burden of our limiting beliefs, bad habits, painful experiences, our fears, toxic relationships, when we live only in past or future, and when we give too much f*** about things that don’t really matter. This really is the hardest one to achieve. I started the process by making a list and tackling one thing at a time. I can not say I have fully liberated myself yet, but I am getting good at it and I have my list. So how do I liberate myself? I do it the same way I do any hard things in life – I just do it and I don’t look back.
Only after seeing myself as a mother, I realized how I had never really loved myself. I would move mountains for my daughter, but I would not even get up off the couch for me. I wanted that to change. I decided to give the same unconditional love to me. I started by practising ho’oponopono whenever I got a chance (Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. It involves simple chanting of ‘I love you, I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you’). But where I was starting from I needed to do much more than that. So now I try to apply motherhood 101 to myself i.e I protect myself from all harm – toxins, negativity, pollution, etc. I nurture myself – I try to do everything mindfully to the best of my ability, and I help myself grow with the help of my spiritual and career sponsors and mentors. I plan for my own education as much as my daughter’s.
Last and the most powerful message I want to leave you with is allow yourself to be your own champion. Not trying to do it all alone and asking for help is important but I doubt if that will always work out. If it does not, do not ever think that you are not enough for you. As women, we are expected and trained to always be sugar and spice and everything nice. That is wasting far too much of our energies on wrong things. You don’t have to be any of that, you just have to be your strongest ally. Bring all focus back on you and allow yourself to be #unbelievablyBOLD #unbelievablyFIT #unbelievablyBEAUTIFUL #unbelievablyHAPPY.
This post is contributed by Kiran Patel.
There are many women, who like Kiran go through a mentally exhausting and draining journey and wonder why they feel like this when motherhood is supposed to this beautiful experience. We need more voices like her to understand the more realistic motherhood journey. We all love our kids and let’s not judge each other, let’s share empathy for others and for ourselves. We want to bring more voices like her to the forefront. More #realmotherhoodstories, do write to us at [email protected] if you wish to contribute.