I’ve written a few times about the importance of being kind to ourselves, the use of a non-judgmental compassion. After all, each day is different and some days are just, well, good days to crawl back into bed and hide under the covers.
I’ve been asked how I know when I cross the line from being compassionate with myself and listening to what I need over to being just plain lazy. Unfortunately there isn’t an easy answer to this question. I did an article on how to do nothing and the benefits that can be garnered from doing nothing. But it’s a fine line between doing nothing take care of oneself and doing nothing to avoid doing anything.
I have discovered a few telltale signs that help me distinguish between the two and listed them here:
- Feeling regret about choosing not to work out or whatever it was that you didn’t do. Not the little “yeah I probably should have” type, but the “I really need to do that tomorrow” type of regret.
- The activity in question is one that you are choosing to be “compassionate” with yourself on more than others. Say almost every time it comes up, “compassion” is the first thought you have.
- You choose self-care over anything that happens during a televised game or show. Most of us have a DVR, Netflix or some other on demand service. If all else fails, they still have reruns and highlight reels.
- The to-do list becomes a matter of life or death as you get closer to having to start what you are being self-compassionate over. When doing your nails suddenly comes to the top of our list, you might be avoiding something.
- You fidget at the very thought of starting the activity you are being self-compassionate about. The anticipation of it sets your skin on fire and your stomach starts churning. A good sign you are avoiding. But sometimes what we avoid the most we also need the most.
- You take any reason to help or support others (or just any excuse really) to avoid what you were going to do. See fidgeting above.
After running through that list, do any of those sound familiar? If not, great you probably have a nice balance in your life. But if you did, then read on, I have some tips on facing those things that you may be avoiding and maybe even make them less arduous.
First, find a little time to set aside for yourself. Digging around inside can stir the emotional pot. Having some time to sit and deal with what comes up makes this process smoother and more effective. Once you have the time and a nice quiet spot, settle in and move through these steps.
- Take a few minutes to just breathe and tune your mind into your body. Some breathing exercises such as Ujjayi, Dirgha or similar are useful here.
- Take stock of your emotional state. Ideally a calm mind will allow you to dig out the root cause of the resistance in your life.
- Think about starting the task you’ve been avoiding. Notice, without judging, what emotions, what thoughts and what physical sensations come up for you.
- Next picture what you might feel once you’ve completed the task. Ask yourself if that feeling is enough to get you started. If it is, then breathe a little longer and get started.
- If not, ask yourself if this is something that absolutely must be done. If it is, then accept that you must do it and look for ways to make it more pleasant, if not enjoyable. If not, consider dropping it from your to do list.
One of the biggest reasons we are resist something because it’s challenging us in some way that is outside our comfort zone. This is a good thing. Growth is challenging. It can also be daunting. The steps above can help you figure out why you’re feeling resistance and give you a little support in moving through it. If this doesn’t work the first time, I encourage you to keep at it. It can take time to deal with resistance and setting an expectation that it may take a few rounds takes pressure off yourself.
At the end of the day, when you have a chance to sit and quiet your mind, you will know what you did to be kind to yourself and what you did to avoid something. Everyone has challenges and the key here is that even when you find yourself avoiding something, don’t judge or criticize yourself. Just acknowledge it’s happening and take the conscious steps in the direction you truly want head.