I don’t know about you but I have found life in a pandemic to be uniquely challenging. I thought I would have all this time to do all these things that I don’t have time to do when I am working in my massage therapy business. And I do have time. What I don’t have is motivation. My brain is apparently so busy managing the myriad of feelings and responses I have to living under a shelter-at-home order that I have very limited brain space for anything other than what is absolutely required to make it through the day.
I hear of people doing deep cleaning or sorting through their junk drawers or their attics and their basements. I hear of people starting new hobbies and sometimes doing new jobs online. I have no energy for such things. And I think, what is wrong with me that I am struggling to make it through each day? To avoid thinking this about myself, I sometimes choose to believe that something is wrong with those other people!
So I have been thinking a lot about kindness lately. About extending kindness to others who are not like me—the people who are getting all kinds of great things done during this stay at home time! And I’ve come to the realization that I am not very kind to myself. I take quite good care of myself: I eat fairly well, I exercise regularly, I get enough sleep, I maintain social relationships, I get regular bodywork to ease my aches and pains. I do things to nurture my physical health, my emotional health and my spiritual health. The list is long: meditation, acupuncture, massage, thoughtful readings and books, deep conversations with friends. And so on.
This does not mean that I am kind to myself.
Because even while I am taking care of myself, a small seed of resentment grows about my need for such care. I have a deep-seated belief that if I were a better, more healthy, more, oh my word, something more! Something different! Then I would not need so much care. Therefore, I must be defective. Something must be wrong if I need to care so deeply, frequently and in so many ways for myself.
Thinking this way strips me of any capacity to be kind to myself. I’m beginning to wonder if being kind isn’t perhaps the bedrock of care. How much care can I really provide if I am not kind—to myself, or to others? How might I move to a place where my and others very human neediness is not felt as a defect, but as a welcome opportunity to show kindness?
Lolly Butter is about kindness. It is about accepting ourselves. And it is about accepting others. We are not defective. And we do need to take care of ourselves and of others because we are human. We are perfectly human, each one of us. Let us practice kindness toward ourselves. I’ll start.