The next time you find yourself in a bad mood, take a moment to pause and ask yourself, “What is my attitude toward myself right now? Am I relating to myself with judgment … or with mindfulness, warmth, and respect?”
Typically, you’ll find that when you’re anxious, lonely, or depressed, you’re also down on yourself in some way, and that undercurrent of feeling deficient or unworthy is what’s keeping you cut off from your own aliveness, as well as your feeling of connection with others.
The way of healing and homecoming begins with what I call “a gesture of kindness.” You might for instance put your hand on your heart—letting the touch be tender—and send a message inwardly. It might be “It’s okay, sweetheart.” Or “I care about this suffering.” Or, “I’m sorry and I love you.” Often, it’s simply, “This, too.”
Sometimes, this gesture of kindness includes saying “yes” to whatever’s going on—the yes meaning, “This is what’s happening, it’s how life is right now … it’s okay.”
If you’re really down on yourself, you can also say “Forgiven, forgiven.” Not because there’s something wrong to forgive, but because there’s some judgment to let go of.
As you offer yourself this gesture of kindness, take some moments to stay with yourself, to keep yourself company. Allow whatever most wants attention to surface, and sense that you are the loving presence that can include and embrace whatever’s arising.
As you continue to practice offering yourself and others this gesture of kindness, you will discover that this response to life becomes increasingly spontaneous and natural. In time, you’ll recognize it as the most authentic expression of who you are.
Thanks, Tara. We so often treat ourselves with great cruelty which often results from past training that has taught us that we are “sinful” and unworthy. How good your advice to counter those negative impulses with self-appreciation and kindness! I find it helpful to look on those negative impulses from outside myself, as if I’m an impartial observer looking at my thoughts. When I do this, I can come to a reasonable understanding of my feelings and recognize their impermanence.