My son has just passed 9 weeks of being on the outside of his mum's tummy. He is an amazing little human being. I can say that now after a week of back-to-back 'sunny days' where he smiled and cooed and started to talk (or at least, engage in a conversation of various pitched squeals of what seems to be delight).
What a difference three weeks makes.
I felt like a different man back then. My energetic and enthusiastic being had been replaced by a tired and bewildered soul! Waiting for that "magic six week" mark (when babies apparently become peaceful angels) was like marching towards a mirage in the desert that continues to just elude you on the horizon.
Then out of the fog my mind opened up with complete clarity around a book I had read called The Reality Slap. The author Dr Russ Harris explains how to cope with something in your life not matching what you want. The bigger the gap, the bigger the reality slap.
The very first step that one needs to take in these situations is this: self-compassion. Without self-compassion, you cannot move forward. You are essentially stuck in your own struggle with the situation, trying to control something that is essentially uncontrollable.
I thought, why not? Okay so my reality slap is pretty tame, but it is my reality and I want to live a vitality rich life like the next person. So I took the time to reflect on the commonly known elements of self-compassion.
1. Be Kind to Yourself.
Easier said than done and much easier to express kindness to others. So use that - take the time to think about a friend. For me, a close friend had a baby a few years ago and I remember the challenges he had in the early days. I remember sitting with him and listening to how he was going, giving him a hug and letting him know I was there for him.
So a few weeks ago I applied this to myself - I put my hand on my heart and felt the warmth traveling from my hand and into my chest. I imagined it was the touch of someone close to me, the kindness of my mum.
2. Acknowledge Your Common Humanity.
This was an easy one. As soon as I stopped getting caught up in my tired frustrations and reflected on the situation for what it is, it dawned on me that I am far from alone. There are new parents made every second! In my friend circle alone it seems like the year for having babies. Just naming that made me feel better, like I belong to this tired, zombie-like tribe of new parents.
3. Practice Mindfulness.
Like many things in life, you need to take the time to slow down and actually notice what is happening. How can you acknowledge and accept feelings without noticing what you are feeling in the first place? Once I stepped out of my mind and into the moment, I realised that not only was I tired but also a little worried, scared and frustrated. That is okay. I noticed and named these feelings as they were, without trying to change them. Once I did this I could make some space for them to hang out as much as they like while I put my energy and time into getting to know my little boy.
Taking the time to be kind to ourselves can have a big impact on our lives. It allows you to be more authentic in your compassion towards others and gives you more inner strength to do the things that really matter in your life.
Plus, I hope that I can lead by example so that when my son grows up he feels comfortable showing kindness to himself and those around him.
So go on, sneak away from the hustle and bustle of your day if only for 5 minutes. Give yourself a hand-to-the-heart hug (it works) and embrace your humanity.
Ciao for now,
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