Earlier this week I was at an event sponsored by Facebook’s Compassion Team. As I was talking with some of the other participants the topic of compassion towards the self came up. How often do we truly show compassion for the things we say or don’t say, for our mistakes and the like? It seems that the tendency is to show kindness towards others and not necessarily for ourselves. This is in line with how we approach self-care in our culture, especially for women. Women are taught to care for others before we care for ourselves.
Taking care of others and less so ourselves can create a downward spiral leading to resentment and unhappiness. Think about what happens when a garden is not tended to. It withers and dies. When we don’t tend to ourselves (e.g., by showing compassion and forgiveness to name just a couple of things), a part of us withers and dies. This can put us into a mode of wanting someone else to “fix it,” which does nothing to empower us.
The following quote by Veronica A. Shoffstall is a great reminder of the visual I like to use when looking at how well I’m tending to my personal “garden.”
If you were to plant your own garden, what would it look like?
Here’s one way to create YOUR personal garden that you can take with you anywhere.
- Get into a comfortable position.
- Take a few deep, cleansing breaths. Breathing in and breathing out.
- Visualize or sense a beautiful garden. What does it look like? Are there flowers, a pond, or birds? Does it remind you of a place you know? What are the emotions that this garden evokes? When you think about the garden, do you feel any sensations in your body? Is there anything you want to change about this garden? If yes, go ahead and change it now.
- Sit and hold this image or sense for a while.
I use the beautiful garden that I created in my mind’s eye as a litmus test to show me how well I’ve been taking care of myself. What do I mean by this? I can close my eyes and sense into my garden and tell if it needs more care. Are the flowers wilting? Does it feel like I’ve been away from my garden too long? When I’m taking good care of myself my garden is full of bright flowers and grass lightly blowing in the wind. Birds are chirping and there’s a sense of calm and peacefulness. When I feel tired or a bit off, I might sense that some of the flowers are wilting or that I haven’t visited my garden for a while. When I find that my garden has not been well-tended to, I express gratitude that I noticed this and choose how I want to move forward.
Another fun way to visualize YOUR garden is to make a vision board. You can take a picture of it with your Smartphone so it can go with you wherever you are.
No one knows what we need better than ourselves. May you take the time to show some well-deserved compassion towards yourself today. When we do this our personal garden of self-love grows.
Please share this post with your friends and leave a comment below to tell me what your personal garden looks like.
PS: Facebook does work around suicide prevention, relationship breakups, bereavement and memorializing someone’s FB page if they’ve passed and more. Visit https://www.facebook.com/compassion/ to learn more about the Facebook Compassion Team and what they’re up to.