The days when you wake up & dive head first into a workout are absolutely sensational. The feeling is indescribable & yet it’s depicted across social media in all its flowers-&-clouds-selfie glory like an open diary to the world. The endorphin drenched bliss is followed by an equally addictive feeling of “I can…”. The glass appears half full, short term goals are smashed & longer-term goals seem achievable.
Then one day, you wake up feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus. That bus reverses back over you as you attempt to get out of bed. The thought of lifting your lead-filled head off the pillow & putting one foot in front of the other is overwhelming. An Olympic effort is required just to open your eyes.
These are the days when all the effort in the world is required to NOT DO ANYTHING. The “shoulds” are flying left, right & centre. “I should go to the gym” “I should go for a run” “I should just fight through this”. Even a sneaky “I don’t get sick” weaves its way through the mind traffic, sideswiping rational thinking on its course down the fast lane to “poor me” central.
Today is one of those days. I can’t remember the last time I woke up on a Saturday & DIDN’T get psyched for a sweat session of some sort. Even sitting here writing this, I’m glancing out the window noticing thoughts like “it looks like a great morning for a run”, all the while having difficulty breathing walking from one room to the next & muscles aching as if I’m now carrying that reversing bloody bus.
So, today is a day for NOT DOING. A day for paying respect to my body & mind in ways that are gentle & nurturing. Caring for this amazing temple that, at times, needs rest, fluids, nourishment & more rest. That at times requires me to give myself permission to just stop. To be with the pounding head, aching joints & muscles & not have to do a damn thing. There’s nothing I need to do right now except provide the best context, within my power, for this body of mine to heal. That also means going a little easy on this mind of mine too. Noticing the judgments that want to shoulder barge their way in & bully me into doing more than my body can muster. The judgments that want me to believe that what is happening today is more than just a passing ailment. Reigning in the attention that wants to drift to the worse-case-scenarios that creep in to the imagination when life throws curve balls at our best laid intentions.
Being gentle with myself & the inner argy-bargy that goes on when my routine is thrown out of whack by things beyond my control is a HUGE challenge for me. I’m used to telling myself to fight on, get over it, “just do it”. What I’m NOT used to doing is showing myself some compassion. That dose of warm & fuzzy is saved for everyone else…I’m not deserving. Well, today is one of those days when I need to say “I see you” to that destructive default path of self-blame & judgment, remind myself that I am human, & practise taking a few caressing breaths. All things are transient…including the presence of this bloody heavy bus!
Louise is a Psychologist in Private Practice in Canberra. She also has a thing about buses…
For more about Self Compassion, check out Kristin Neff