If you’ve ever said a kind, loving word or offered support and patience to a friend, relative or stranger, then you know what it means to extend compassion. If a friend, relative or stranger has ever done the same to you, then you know what it feels like to receive it. It is the exchange of love and human kindness. It is the extension of one soul reaching out to another – a universal connection – the need to be soothed, cradled, embraced and loved. We may show or see these generous acts of kindness every day, despite the ugliness in this world. We see or perform compassionate acts to each other – our loved one and strangers. But how often do we show ourselves that same kind of sweetness? That same kind of love, compassion and patience?
I admit – there was a time when positive self-talk was foreign to me. I didn’t have the time and I’d honestly never even tried it. Wasn’t it kind of crazy to talk to yourself? That’s what I used to think. But I can remember reprimanding myself when I made a mistake – “Ava, that sure was a stupid thing to do!” or “Ava, what were you thinking?” I can remember berating myself for days, sometimes even weeks over a mistake. Or, feeling inadequate or even deficient if I didn’t know something that I thought I should know or didn’t learn something as quickly as someone else did. Not anymore and not for a long time!
When I’m not writing, I sometimes have other work that requires me to work outside my home – usually in a customer service capacity. One of the gigs that I currently have is fairly new. I provide customer service at a well-known health, fitness and recreational facility. The job is busy and the environment is robust and requires me to interact directly with the public and members. The very nature of this business requires members to “check in” upon entering the facility. Naturally, I have gotten to know many of the members, either by face or name, or both. After seeing them day after day, this is natural. But even with the same people coming in almost every time I’m working, there are still some regular members whose names escape me. But that’s okay, because I can still extend customer service without a name. Well, in most cases that has worked well. But I have been challenged by a few members as to why I haven’t remembered their names by now. I even had one member suggest that I learn his name because everyone else already knows it. Yeah, I know! Who knew that big egos would be found here? I didn’t, but I was wrong.
What I have discovered: These bilious people who have challenged or questioned me as to why I don’t know their names by now simply have a big ego and very boring, uneventful and unfulfilling lives – big fish in little, bitty ponds. Get a life!
What do I do about them? Nothing – Not a thing. I simply smile and ignore them. Their over-inflated egos are not my problem. I used this example of the fitness facility because, in another time- far, far away and long, long ago- I may have internalized and personalized their complaints. I may have even questioned myself and wondered if I was not learning my job quickly enough.
How does my soul process these challenges? – Not just these, but MANY challenges. Well, this is where it gets REALLY good! In addition to ignoring the sarcasm of egos the size of the Grand Canyon, I simply show myself great acts of kindness and compassion. Instead of questioning myself, I remind myself that I am a fierce, beautiful and awesome “junior senior” (that’s my preferred word over middle-age) who is also menopausal and does good to remember her own name on some days! I lovingly whisper to my soul that I’m doing the best that I can at this time, with what I’m working with, may be pressing through or dealing with personally. I smile to myself as my soul and my spirit shines and responds to my self-love – to my self-compassion. My spirit remains effusive and unburdened as I patiently tell her that “You’re doing just fine, beautiful, kind and loving woman.” After all, I have spoken these words to people I didn’t even know well, so why wouldn’t I speak them to myself?
How can I show love and compassion to others if I don’t know how to show it to myself first? How do we forgive others if we can’t forgive ourselves for our mistakes, flaws and shortcomings? We simply can’t. Charity and compassion starts at home and in your own temple. Show yourself some love today, tomorrow and forever. Be kind, gentle and patient with yourself and be careful about what you whisper to yourself because your soul can hear everything that you say and it will respond accordingly.
DRAWING: Unknown Artist