Self generosity is so important. I think most people can find some energy to be a little bit generous to others, but generosity to ourselves seems to be the hardest thing to do.
There is a troubling dynamic between self-generosity and letting yourself of the hook. It can be a challenge to know if you are being honest with yourself. I still don’t know. Am I being generous to myself (like I would with other people), or am I taking the easy way out?
I’ll be the first to admit that it can take me a little while to understand what is happening ‘within myself’. I will often ask ‘what is the emotion that I am currently feeling’, or, more often, ‘I remember feeling an emotion the other day, what was that?’ I can be slow.
But it’s my emotions that generally stop me from doing something. Like taking on a new challenge, creating an event, or making a phone call. And so, I ask myself how much weight should I give to that emotion? Is this a time to listen to listen to myself and take a break, or is this one of those times that I can push on through? Am I running from a growth opportunity or is saying ‘no’ right now keeping me mentally healthy? Am I over thinking it? Am I underthinking it? Am I asking too many questions?
Maybe you can resonate with that.
The best strategy that I use which helps me manage this process is to sit in the discomfort of whatever the emotion is, name it out loud (works better if you are alone) and articulate what I am afraid of in that moment (fear is always at work).
That is my definition of self-generosity. Noticing what I am experiencing without judgement and sitting with it. From that point I will usually know instinctively what the next step is.
What if every very little thing is not going to be alright?
What if Bob was just trying to make us feel better but instead steered us away from the truth? The truth about life, especially as we experience it in 2020, is that life is difficult. There are challenges and there is suffering. In a culture that likes to be the masters of our own destiny it can be hard to comprehend that every little thing may not be alright. It’s hard to look that in the face.
We can see clearly that everything little thing is not going to be alright for the hundreds of thousands of people who have died from coronavirus. It is not going to be alright for those who weren’t able to say goodbye to loved ones due to travel restrictions as they passed away in hospital. It’s not going to be alright for those who are separated from family members due to hard borders being in place – parents missing out on seeing their kids grow and develop during one of the most challenging times in recent history. You can never get those times back. Saying ‘don’t worry about it’ to those people doesn’t seem to help and nor should it.
So what do we do? Do we just get sucked into the void of depression because ‘life sucks’, things are not always good and not everybody is nice? How do we continue to function? How can we keep putting one foot in front of another and finding the joy in life?
There is great power in naming something. When we can honestly name a situation or experience as tough, overpowering, challenging and just plain sh*t, there is an internal shift. It allows us room to experience the painful emotions, to sit with them and notice them for what they are – emotions that will pass. It’s not blame, it’s not loaded with outrage, it is just a time to express sadness and recognise that not everything is okay. When we can do that, it provides an emotional depth that creates a foundation of greater emotional joy.
Sometimes, everything isn’t going to be alright. But during those times, we don’t need to run from it or pretend it’s not happening, we can sit in it and even find joy in its midst.