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.
Out of the mouth of babes ‘mommy, you are beautiful’! Oh, to see with eyes of purity and good intention. You raised a slew of good thoughts in this post but for me, none more magical than the word ‘boundaries’. Boundaries are protection. I think this is the key that leads to baggage freedom, or most of it. I read his book (Dr. Henry Cloud) with this title in the early 90’s. I had no expectations at the beginning but reading about boundaries, what they are and how to implement them in our day to day life blew me away. It was pivotal. It forever changed me. I agree that ‘new year, new you’ is as empty as ‘you are not your past’. In our current circumstance, hopefully we are not repeating dangerous and/harmful habits that stifle growth. But our past very much influences who we are today, like it or not. Setting up a boundary that harmful words said against others or to ourselves is not permissible, opens the way for growth in the right direction. And it frees us of the baggage that so heavily wears us down that we are useless. Pretending we don’t have baggage isn’t reality. We all have it but we have to make deliberate choices (meditate, self-talk, change of focus etc) on what weight is too heavy to carry. And take action against it. Very thoughtful post, Leah. P.S. Dad really liked your post, too!
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Beautifully said! X