Winter holiday celebrations have a unique quality of joy and excitement. As part of this, there are often many preparations and a lengthy list of to-do's.
My first attempt at writing this post about gratitude took the form of a “how-to” type of article. I included the reasons why cultivating gratitude is beneficial. I wrote about how I try to incorporate it into my day both formally and informally. It was coming along just fine.
As I look back over the original draft, however, I realize that the tone doesn’t really align with what I’m feeling when it comes to gratitude this month. Much of the gratitude I’m experiencing right now stems from feelings of loss and grief.
I’ll try not to go too far down the rabbit hole here, and I promise there is a point to all this. Let me explain.
NOVEMBER 2018 - GRATITUDE
It takes a bit of an effort to be grateful.
We are hard-wired to always be searching for "better" or "more" while simultaneously watching out for potential hazards or threats. We are predisposed to keep going without allowing ourselves to pause and enjoy the fruits of our labors either at home or work.
When we think about self-compassion, it is often associated with the ideas of being kind to oneself and letting go of our inner critic. These are unquestionably important elements, but not really related to the insight I recently had.
The form of self-compassion that I’m thinking about is when we listen to our hearts and honor what we need, even if this is different from what we think we want.
OCTOBER 2018 - SELF-COMPASSION
If self-acceptance and self-kindness had a love child, it would be SELF-COMPASSION.
Unlike self-esteem, where we assess our worth based on either a comparison to others or a comparison to some arbitrary ideal, self-compassion recognizes that we are fine just as we are.
SEPTEMBER 2018 - SELF-AWARENESS
Before we can reflect on and grow from our experiences, we need to first become aware of what is true for us right now. Take a moment to pause and check-in with yourself.
AUGUST 2018 - SAYING YES TO SAYING NO
The beginning of the new school year is a perfect time to get better at saying “no” to extras that don’t align with what is most important to you. This is an opportunity to reflect on what you’ve been doing and decide what it is time to stop doing and let go of.
Self-care is what keeps us feeling good, both mentally and physically. When you feel both physically healthy and mentally strong, you are able function at a level that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. I’ve written before about why self-care and self-advocacy are not selfish. It allows you to effectively and resiliently support all the people in your life who are counting on you.
How, then, do we introduce more self-advocacy and self-care into our busy everyday lives when we’re so often focused on everyone else?