Over the last couple of weeks, as I was navigating our once again full house with our boys home for the holidays, getting ready for holiday entertaining and lamenting all the things that weren’t quite right about me and what I was doing or even, in moments, who I was being, my husband said “You are so hard on yourself!” Yep, that’s the truth, I’m so hard on myself. It’s an old pattern that I still hold onto because it seems like it has served me well. If I push myself harder, scold myself more, strive for perfect, then I will be enough.
Compassion and forgiveness are not my default! In fact when I created the first version of the Leading from the Inside Out model I didn’t include the compassion layer of the model. I went straight from Awareness to Choice. Not a surprising miss for me who so often forgets to practice self-compassion, no wonder I wasn’t ready to preach it. And when I found Kristin Neff’s Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Their Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power and Thrive I realized that this is the missing link and a powerful entry point into being the authentic leaders only we can be. When I not only accept but also nurture myself AND I protect myself in the way I already do with my children and all who I love, I give myself the space and time to connect with what I care about and be who I want to be in my work and my life. When I neglect to do this, I’m missing out on being fully me. I’m spending time focused on the “what could be's” and the “if only's” – it’s exhausting and it certainly isn’t “peace on its feet” in fact it’s about the farthest from peaceful that I can get. And this is a tough nut for me to crack, to really, fully step into acceptance of me and all my mess and imperfectness. I talk about “perfectly imperfect” and I believe it sometimes, even most times, then there are those other times when I think (actually my judge tells me) “perfectly imperfect” is fine for others, everyone else but I need to be “perfectly perfect” thank you very much. Oof, it’s a lot of pressure and I’ve been getting caught up in it lately.
Then, last Sunday when my husband and I attended church (for the first time a long while, cue beating myself up and “should have …” thinking) I received a second message about self-compassion through a blessing/reflection for the new year written by our pastor, Meta Herrick Carlson.
Before resolutions, reflection. Last year merits a moment for setting free both grief and gratitude for what has already been, things within and beyond my control. Remembering grants time to ask, "Am I running away from what was or toward what might still be?" Perhaps this year's resolve is to heal who I already am. My person does not need fixing or replacing so much as mending and gentle attention. This requires deeper promises, a sacred acceptance of the one who deserves so much more than this annual beatdown, this withholding of grace and tenderness. Begin by reacquainting yourself and confessing the fear of being truly known. That is resolution enough today and every day.
--Meta Herrick Carlson
“Setting free both grief and gratitude” feels important to me. Asking the question “Am I running away from what was or toward what might still be?” feels important to me. And resolving “to heal who I already am” this year is essential for me. It’s the reminder I needed of the energy that emerges when we make and keep “deeper promises” to ourselves, when we accept and even celebrate who we are and when we let ourselves be known if only to us. That’s enough. We are truly enough, you are enough, I am enough. It comes back to enoughness (again and always). Cheers to 2024, letting ourselves be enough and seeing all the possibilities here for us to create! These possibilities become reality when we take good care of ourselves – offering the grace, tenderness, and fierceness we need to fully blossom! Want support in finding grace for yourself and keeping your “deeper promises,” let’s connect.
Caroline Cochran, PhD is a Certified Presence-Based® Coach and a Leadership Development Consultant with over 25 years of experience.