I have a friend who decided that creating New Year's Resolutions simply sets us up for failure. It doesn’t allow for mistakes or grace, so she decided to make some New Year’s Intentions. I really liked that. While some may say it is not a strong enough word, intentions allow someone the chance to mess up and come back the next day not filled with shame and guilt. Recently I attended a Brene Brown-Daring Way conference and was reminded how much shame could paralyze us. I think we have enough shame to go around, don’t you? Let’s maybe have some good intentions this year instead.
When we shared intentions at our staff meeting, it was clear many of us desired not more clients, more money or more volunteers, but more meaningful interactions with those we come across. There seemed to be a universal desire to be more connected and more ‘authentically present’ in other peoples’ lives. We are all feeling a sense of being rushed and a longing to slow down. We want to matter and we want others to know they matter. While it is OK to want to get healthy, lose weight, go back to church, join a bible study, or other similar goal, we are beginning to sense the urgent need to enjoy the journey and not focus so much on the destination.
For me, the biggest takeaway from the conference was the concept of being kind to myself (sometimes called self-compassion). If I cannot be kind to myself, I cannot be kind to someone else. It starts by really listening to the way I speak to myself. Is that how I would talk to a friend? It is about checking in with my body. Do I need rest? Food? A walk around the building? Laughter? Fun? Quiet time with God? If I don’t know what I need, how can I best meet the needs of others? I know some of you reading this may think this sounds selfish, but I am speaking to the person who is burning the candle at both ends, or the person who gives and gives and gives. The person who is flat out exhausted, angry, hurt, sad, and dissatisfied. I encourage that person to take a personal inventory of how well you are taking care of yourself. I promise, the more you are kind to yourself, the more capacity you have to be kind to others, not less. So while you are considering (or already reconsidering) your intentions for 2015, I pray it includes ‘being kind to myself’.