Self-care for Sensitive Souls
Reconnect with your inner resources
When we’re overwhelmed or depleted, the ideal solution is to curl up and have a good rest.
But what about when we have to keep going, and resting’s not an option? We have commitments that we can’t just drop, a stack of things we have to get done.
It might seem that we just have to grit our teeth and push through.
At times like this, compassionate self-care may not sound powerful enough for the job.
It’s as if that's great for when all is well and we’re skipping through sunlit fields of daisies and unicorns, but not for when we’re a hot mess of aching and exhausted.
But is that true?
Well, the answer is that compassionate self-care comes from a different part of our nature than the part that’s trying to make us push through.
And for many of us, treating ourselves with kindness feels unfamiliar, so even though it feels good, it takes a bit of getting used to, and works better the more we practise it.
Here are three ideas for getting through a difficult day when you feel overwhelmed but you have to get on with it.
Focus on this moment
Even if you do have to get through the whole day, you don’t have to live the whole day at once.
It’s natural to worry about what’s going to happen, especially when you’re in pain and you have no way of knowing when the pain will end or if it will get worse. So, since you can’t know, don’t get caught up in living that far ahead. Make a plan if you need one, then focus on getting through just this moment, over and over, until you can get some rest.
Watch your self-talk
Now is really, really not the time to berate yourself for whatever it is you did or didn’t do that supposedly got you into this state. Nor for catastrophising about how awful it could possibly get. There’ll be plenty of time for more constructive reflection when you’re feeling better.
What’s needed now is compassionate acknowledgement to yourself that this is hard, that you’re doing the best you can, and that this is a part of being human that we all go through, even though it looks from the outside as if everybody else is doing just great.
Show up as you are
This one may be a bit counter-intuitive. What happened to fake it till you make it?
Showing up as you are means first of all facing the truth of how you feel. If you’re exhausted, you’re exhausted. If your neck hurts, your neck hurts. If your head feels like cotton wool and you can’t string two clear thoughts together, then that’s how it is right now.
When we accept our reality for what it is, when we stop fighting against the fact that it’s the way it is, we open ourselves up to having a completely different kind of experience.
This isn’t about giving up and flopping out of what needs to get done. It’s about getting free from a futile, energy-sapping battle to push through. It’s about using our true, quiet strength, that comes through when we stop elbowing it out of the way by acting strong.
What if you could just be tired? What if you could allow yourself to soften into your achy body, and then act from that gentler place? Loosen your shoulders, let that determined grip on your jaw drop away: now allow a kinder way of being with yourself to emerge, and see whether you still want to act in a pretend-strong way that you don’t feel.
What makes the difference is knowing and trusting that it is okay to be how you are. That’s what releases your quiet strength.
You still act, you still do the jobs that need doing. You just may find that getting through a tough day requires a lot less effort this way.
These are just a small sample of the skills we explore in depth in the Healing from Pain course, where you’ll have the opportunity to discover core practices that work for you. When you make them part of how you live every day, they become second-nature, so that you can call on them effortlessly to help you live with more ease.