Every January 1, there is this question about resolutions for the upcoming year. We have all ventured down this road and have experienced the outcome. We make resolutions and after a couple of weeks, they fall to the wayside for one reason or another. We grow tired, we weren’t realistic and quite frankly, the busyness of daily life takes over. We end up feeling badly about ourselves because we couldn’t stick to what we said we would do and we repeat the same habits and behaviours over and over. So frustrating and demoralizing!
As we get ready to launch another 8 week self-compassion course, it makes me think about approaching things a little differently. One of the quintessential questions that we ask in mindful self-compassion is “what do I need?”. Such a simple question but one that we don’t ask often enough. If we stay still for a few minutes and ask ourselves “what do I need”, inevitably, a need will come forward. Sometimes, what comes up is so basic like, I am thirsty or I am tired. At other points, a feeling may come to the surface and you can actually take the time to understand yourself better. This question is so simple but most of us don’t ask it of ourselves very often, if ever. If you think about it, it is probably a question you ask your kids or loved ones on a regular basis, especially if they are going through something hard.
How can we ask this question in everyday life? Well, this is the tricky part as with any practice that you want to embed in your day to day. One thing you could do is use a time when you might normally drift off in thought like when driving home from work or while cooking a meal. You could take a minute or two and check in. You may decide to have a bit of quiet in the morning and include the question about what you need at that juncture. The how is entirely up to you. If you could ask yourself one time per day “what do I need”, I wonder what changes would happen? The great thing is that there is absolutely no harm in asking yourself on a regular basis and it may lead you to be more tuned into your physical, mental and emotional health.
What do I need?
Ask yourself now.
Just sit quietly for a moment and see what naturally comes up.
And then maybe go for that glass of water, or nourish your body or respond in whatever way your body is asking of you.
This is what it means to be self-compassionate.