As I write this little piece an out-of-control wildfire burns just over the hill from my brand new home. We are on evacuation alert and have our trailer packed just in case we have to leave in a hurry. We are also still in the grips of a pandemic that is putting strains on businesses, health care, families, and individuals everywhere. Arguments abound on social media about vaccinations vs. freedom to choose and lines are being drawn in the sand causing massive and possibly irreparable rifts in families and friendships. Uncertainty is all around and it doesn’t look like the end is anywhere in sight.
I am extremely resilient. I can re-frame almost anything to find the good in it. I help others become more resilient and to re-frame circumstances in a way that empowers them. In fact, I do it for a living. And yesterday I didn’t want to do any of that. I just wanted to be shitty.
I witnessed myself feeling frustrated, powerless, and overwhelmed.
In the past, I have plowed through with action, quelled my fears and doubts with a quick pep talk, “other people have it worse than you Pam, go and be an example of what’s possible.” I would put a smile on my face and look for the good in whatever was happening. I actually like doing those things, changing the narrative from negativity to possibility, shifting meaning to create empowerment, and staying above the line with my thoughts and reactions. Most of the time it works to put your attention on the positive, cultivate gratitude, and take action towards what we want. I just really didn’t feel like it.
We are all human. Sometimes we’ve just had enough and for a few moments or a few hours or even a day or two maybe it’s okay to just allow yourself to feel what you feel without trying to change it.
I recently interviewed my friends Joe and Cindy of Fox Dreamer for a podcast. They are spiritual teachers and healers that I greatly admire and respect. Joe is an indigenous medicine man who channels spirit guides, angelic beings, and messages from the spirit world. His connection to Creator is undeniable. He clears old energy and creates space for new perspectives, ideas, and actions to take place. Cindy records Joe’s messages and translates some of the teachings that Joe delivers to make them more easily digestible for the average person who doesn’t regularly connect with the spirit realm. Together they always create extraordinary experiences for those who seek them out. I have personally had profound and life-altering experiences with them and have seen their impact on so many others.
At the end of the interview, I asked Joe if he had one message he could share with the listeners what would it be? He said, “Be gentle with yourself.”
What? That’s it? My inner child was having a tantrum. I can suck it up, I don’t need to be gentle. That’s for other people…my psyche writhed. I am never afraid to “do the work” or to take action but the whole “be gentle with yourself” concept often still prickles me. Since I was a small child I equated being gentle with oneself with being weak. Messages of “tough it out” or “suck it up” are ingrained in my soul through the examples around me. After years of unraveling old beliefs, my intellectual mind knows better, but the programming is still present on a cellular level and sneaks up if I’m not looking. And, I trust Joe so I was willing to consider his words.
Then, I heard it again. Upon completing a second podcast interview only a day later with another amazing human being who is a coach and spiritual teacher, I asked the same question. “What’s one message you would like to share with our listeners?” His answer; “Be gentle with yourself.”
Okay universe, now I am really listening.
And then came the opportunity to practice. Spiritual teachers often say “Be careful what you pray for.” They say this because they know that if we pray for peace we will often be sent a storm in which to practice peace. And the storm continues to rage. Fires, evacuation orders, uncertainty, viruses, etc aren’t going away anytime soon. Perhaps this simple gift of gentleness is a tool from beyond. Perhaps I will practice. So well I was feeling shitty and overwhelmed and to be honest a little defeated, instead of putting my head down, and working hard, as usual, I did the bare minimum. I asked what it would look like to be gentle with myself. I went and taught a yoga class (which always makes me feel better) and then I went home and took a nap. I read a book. I chose not to work on any of the numerous projects awaiting my attention. I ate supper and went to bed early. I was gentle.
I woke up this morning feeling rejuvenated and ready to contribute again. And I am also even more aware that almost everyone we encounter these days is feeling some level of helplessness, frustration, and overwhelmed right now. Certainly, we can all shift our vision to what’s possible and what’s good, and when we just can’t muster the strength to do those things perhaps we could try being gentle.
Couldn’t we all be a little more gentle with ourselves? Couldn’t we all be a little more gentle with each other?
At a time when everything seems to be coming apart, we are being called to practice being gentle and kind to ourselves and to each other. I invite each of you to be kinder than usual to yourself today. Try it on and see how you feel. We can’t give to others what we don’t have ourselves so when you practice kindness and gentleness towards you, you fill-up the tank to be able to share those gifts with others.