“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” ~Buddha
“I was grumpy when I got up and then I took it out on my kids,” Lori said. “I was just lazy and didn’t want to get up.”
Lori had a good reason for wanting to stay in bed a little bit longer. She’s a nurse and had worked late the night before. Needing her rest was warranted.
But the voice inside her head tells Lori she “ought to” spring out of bed full of sunshine and tireless enthusiasm every morning. Regardless of what else might be happening in her life, she should be there for everyone who needs her… and that’s everyone!
Sacrificing herself for others is a common theme for Lori in every arena of her life. Saying no—or saying yes to herself—seems selfish to her. “I can’t let people down,” she says.
That mindset leads to exhaustion and exhaustion is a recipe for guess what? Grumpiness.
Excessive and irrational guilt is the enemy here. A browbeating inner bully is the driving force behind Lori’s failure to set boundaries. It’s also responsible for her exhaustion and eventual grumpiness. She’s caught in a vicious cycle: her grumpiness leads to guilt, which leads to overextending herself, which leads to exhaustion, which leads to grumpiness.
Lori needs to learn the language of grumpiness and kick guilt out of the driver’s seat.
Rather than being critical of herself, she needs to listen to what her body is telling her. It’s an unparalleled tool for communicating what we need. Young children don’t seem to have a problem with this. When they’re tired, they take a nap. When they need to play, they play. When they need time by themselves, they take it.
And interestingly, when they’re grumpy, they don’t judge themselves. That comes later… after the programming phase of their life is launched. That’s when they’re trained on how they “should” be and what they “should” feel guilty about.
Yes… we should be responsive to the needs of others, and oftentimes sacrifice is called for. But wisdom should be the driving force—not guilt. With wisdom at the helm we take into account the whole picture, including what’s best for our well-being. Balance is the key. That always includes compassion for ourselves.
Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.
(c) Salee Reese 2020