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  • ellenwohl712

SNAP! Behind A Kind Mind

As Jack got weaker, I withdrew and secluded myself with him. My time and attention were consumed by helping him. I lost the desire to do a few things that were so much a part of me.

I looked in the mirror and continuously criticized myself. The self-talk was cruel.

Ridiculous, right? I needed to lift myself up — not knock myself down. Why was I treating myself like this?

Seriously, if our best friend is having a bad day, would we call them to belittle, berate, and badger them into submission? Then why would we do it to ourselves? I needed to turn this around and look for my inner strength, not my weakness. I needed to be more compassionate toward myself.

In her book Option B, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who is adjusting to life after the sudden death of her husband, writes about self-compassion, which “comes from recognizing that our imperfections are part of being human.” She quotes psychologist Mark Leary who said, “self-compassion can be an antidote to the cruelty we sometimes inflict on ourselves.”

I discovered that one of my passions, writing, is a powerful tool to help process feelings of guilt and the anxiety of caregiving. Putting my feelings down on paper makes it possible to sort through and process which ones are totally irrational and which ones I can turn around. They won’t go away magically, but they will eventually become manageable.

Sandberg describes the benefit of a positivity journal. This is the complete opposite of journaling failures and frustrations. It’s like a boost of positive energy. Every day, I plan to jot down three good things that I did or that someone did for me. Believe me, it’s not an in-depth psychological analysis of my day. I keep it simple.

Woke up.

Ate salad for lunch.

Janet called to say hi.

If I feel like it, as time passes, I add a few more daily thoughts — or not. No pressure.

But looking back at what I’ve written over the weeks and months makes me realize my life isn’t so bad. In fact, when something good happens, I think, “Oh, I can use that!” I focus on the good stuff, so the negativity has less room in my head. As I purge the negativity, self-compassion emerges.

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