Thoughts on Taking Care of Yourself When Life is Hard
- It’s okay to feel exactly what you’re feeling. You don’t need to feel any different than you do. (I often forget this and try to fix what I’m feeling rather than witnessing and welcoming.)
- Raise your arms up overhead. Exhale long and slow. Relax your shoulders. You are here and it’s going to be okay.
- Offer forgiveness to whatever feelings are present. Tara Brach teaches that no matter what appears, be it rage, anxiety, utter despondency, or shame, we can offer forgiveness to the feeling for existing. “Rather than forgive a ‘self,’ we forgive the experiences we are identified with,” she writes in her wonderful book Radical Acceptance.
- This mood, this feeling, these thoughts, will change. Even if you do nothing, this will pass.
- If music is your jam, I made you a playlist to help you feel less alone.
- Try offering someone a random act of kindness. I like to write little notes that say things like “You are awesome” or “You’re doing a great job,” and leave them around public places or in library books. My daughter Lilly and I did this when she was twelve and left the notes all over our little town.
- Cradle something warm in your hands.
- Tell yourself, “I care that I am suffering.” This is my favorite self-compassion practice.
- Drape yourself over a bolster or pillow so your lovely heart can gently open. Let your shoulders roll back and under. Be sure and support your neck. Imagine love streaming into your heart.
- Think of all the other people in the world feeling exactly the way you are right now and imagine everybody holding hands while nodding at each other with kindness.
- Eat something that you enjoy and imagine the food-loving you as it enters your body.
- Reach out to someone you trust, tell them you’re hurting, and that you need to be witnessed; no advice needed.
- When my friend’s house burned down, I sent poetry. Poetry almost always helps me when I am downhearted. Here are some good poetry apps.
- Remind yourself suffering is optional. You don’t have to stew in feeling bad to prove you are a good person, have “learned your lesson,” or that you care sufficiently about whatever happened.
- What would love do?
Thank you for being.