The rain this past week in San Francisco has made me want to stay inside and cocoon. I found myself thinking about the difference between alone time to recharge and isolation. When does solitary, unstructured time feel like self-care and how do I let that luxury slip into feelings of loneliness?
I’m learning it’s about how I use that precious time. When I compare what I’m doing, to what I imagine everyone else is doing, I start feeling lonely. Comparing mind is my Saboteur’s (inner critic) favorite game. She comes out and tells me I “shouldn’t” be alone. I start feeling like everyone else is doing something more fun or productive. Everyone I know is hanging out connecting with their friends, partners, kids and lovers. Sound familiar?
Then, feeling disconnected and alone, I try to fill the void. I open Facebook or eat when I’m not hungry. My unskillful remedies simply make me feel worse. I think it’s going to numb the pain, or quiet the monkey mind but what I really need in that moment is to practice self-compassion and self-care. I need to cultivate my connection to myself.
Awareness. If I can stay aware in those moments, what I know is that my inner child benefits more from a few minutes of meditation & deep breathing. A couple of cat-cow stretches, some neck rolls, or even a little “self” hug can begin to fill the void and calm my inner child. For me, writing a long overdue thank-you note (gratitude), or sending a kind email to someone I admire (generosity) fits the bill. Staying aware in the moment allows me to question, “What do I really need right now?”
Self-Kindness. Try putting some sticky notes with affirmations and self-compassionate sayings around the house. Leave them on the bathroom mirror, alarm clock, over the kitchen sink, or other places where you might see them often. What would it be like to see “You’re awesome! I love you” every time you did the dishes? (Makes me smile every time.)
You’re not alone. One of the most powerful ways to stop feeling consumed by negative emotions like loneliness, depression, fear or sadness, is to remember the universal nature of those feelings. Remind yourself that everyone experiences these feelings, sometimes. In fact, millions of people are probably feeling the same way you are at that very moment. What would it be like to try to connect with that universal energy and even send some loving energy from afar to others who feel exactly like you do? Imagine helping someone else feel grounded, peaceful and secure in that moment.
Shifting the focus from “why me,” to actively practicing self-care and self- compassion can be powerful. It takes practice. This week, if you’re feeling “off”, stay aware of what you’re feeling, treat yourself with kindness, and remember you aren’t alone. These are the 3 key components to practicing self-compassion. See how it feels! Drop me a line about it, I’d love to hear your experience.