When safeguards fail

Growing up, I was always told by my parents to protect my mind and heart. At the time, it seemed like an easy task as they belonged to me.

I was to protect my mind from thoughts and ideas that were discouraging, dark, hateful, and harmful. As a child, those translated to things like bad movies and tv shows, inappropriate music, and people who were looking to make me feel bad about myself.

Protecting my heart was different. There was no way I could have understood what my parents meant at the time because my heart was safe then. Now, my heart has experienced 39 years of trials, and more than ever, I find myself needing to remember those words.

We choose how we carry ourselves, who we interact with, how we perform at work, and ultimately, how we want to go about our day.

Sometimes I want to believe that the universe is dictating my day to day, but ultimately, the power has always remained in my hands. Why are choices so hard? And why didn’t I get warned about protecting my mind and heart, from myself?

As I’ve aged, it’s become abundantly clear that the hardest person on me, is myself. The most critical, cynical, judgemental, and hateful voice is often my own.

How do we be kinder to ourselves?

There isn’t a simple answer to that but I’m confident it starts with understanding why we put the pressure and expectations there in the first place. Neither is wrong – they only head south when there aren’t boundaries in place to keep those pressures and expectations reasonable.

We have boundaries in place for others – let’s learn to put some up for that harsh voice in our own heads. So what does this look like?

Start with being kinder to yourself. Your tone isn’t only dangerous to others. If criticizing yourself about how you look is your go-to stinger, avoid the traps you’ve set for yourself. Stay away from excessive time in the mirror and skip all those socialite social media accounts. Comparison is the thief of joy stated Roosevelt – and he wasn’t wrong.

Name your vice, state it out loud, and start building a new inner dialogue. Maybe going to the gym five times a week is too much, maybe binging Netflix in an effort to avoid working out is something you can set new goals with. Maybe this is the week you make a conscious effort to only say nice things about yourself.

“New year, New You” is lame – it’s just a new year with the “normal” you. Don’t look for a new you – just look for “new” ways to appreciate yourself.

Take it from my six-year-old daughter, who always finds me at my worst, disheveled, braless, with dark bags under my eyes, often in pajamas, and hair everywhere – “Mommy – you are beautiful.”

And so are you.