My daughter is 7 months old and she loves to enthusiastically grab at people’s noses, cheeks, and hair – mine being no exception. I calmly stroke her cheek and nose and tell her, “Gentle…gentle…you need to be gentle.” As she has started to vigorously play with toys and shakes them painfully close to her face, or as she desperately claws at her ears for relief from teething, drawing blood on occasion, my ‘gentle’ mantra has quickly turned to, “Gentle…gentle…always be gentle with yourself.”
I often say things to my daughter that with proper reflection are what I need to tell myself. And so, I have started saying to myself, on regular occasion, “Be gentle with yourself.”
I have found by replacing my thought of not being good enough, to being gentle with myself, brings a sense of calmness and light to upsetting or dark moments.
Flight attendants tell you with good reason to put your oxygen mask on before assisting others. We need to be gentle with ourselves first, before we can be gentle with others. For this new year, I challenge you on a daily basis to be gentle with yourself. It is a not a challenge to be gentle with others, although this will naturally follow.
I am gentle with myself when I am exhausted and feel unproductive. I am gentle with myself when I let my daughter cry in the car instead of rushing to the backseat to comfort her. I am gentle with myself when I climb in the backseat to comfort my crying daughter because letting her cry was too hard. I am gentle with myself when I can’t pump enough milk for my daughter to have at daycare and supplement with donor milk. I am gentle with myself when I heat up soup for lunch because I didn’t have the energy or time to cook for the week. I am gentle with myself when I have a beer or glass of wine. I am gentle with myself when I am running late. I am gentle with myself when I let the housework go to spend time with my daughter. I am gentle with myself when the weekend escapes me and I fail to call my parents. I am gentle with myself when I look in the mirror and don’t see the same person I was two years ago. I am gentle with myself when I am not the friend, daughter, or wife I want to be. I could go on for pages about all the times, each day, I am gentle with myself…
Although right now I don’t have the energy for much, I do have the energy to be gentle. As I become gentler with myself, I believe improvement and change will follow. And at the very least, it will give my daughter the confidence to always be gentle with herself.