This post is much more personal than usual and you could certainly say that it is not specifically focused on the challenges of starting a new role. You might not want to read it and that’s fine. The underlying principle is, I believe, important to all of us, whatever work we are doing, and it certainly feels relevant to this strange lockdown experience. I mention God here and there. If that doesn’t resonate with you, please substitute something else that works better… like the universe or your inner self…
I was reminded this morning to be gentle with myself… that I need gentleness. I felt in prayer that God was telling me how gentle his love for me is. It’s like the stroke of a feather against my skin. God never forces anything, never rushes or needs something to happen now. There is no urgency or expectation; simply tenderness and love and gentle waiting. When I am in that place, I know there is nothing I need to do. I can simply ‘be’.
And how does this relate to the rest of life? I think in two ways:
- I can often be impatient with myself that something is not moving quickly enough; I can create high expectations of myself and then beat myself up when I don’t quite reach them; I can be a hard taskmaster to myself. It’s the remains of what was a helpful approach to life – when I was younger, striving to achieve got me good grades and good jobs. Now it feels that it is not what is needed for this phase of life. What if I were gentle towards myself in the same way God is? I would be much more patient with myself; I would be focused on nurturing and encouraging myself – seeing the positives much more than the negatives, celebrating every success however small, doing everything I can to foster my growth. Now, the funny thing is, I generally think I am doing that, but this morning showed me that all too often I am still being hard on myself without realising it. And I really don’t need to be.
- Secondly, in this lockdown time, where there is so much change and fear about the situation and the future, we all need gentleness. We are experiencing huge levels of uncertainty and living through a time where we have even less control than usual. A gentle, loving kindness towards myself and others will help. It gives permission to let things be instead of striving to change what I cannot change.
I share this because it seems that we often could do with more gentleness towards ourselves and others. So much of life can seem like hard work and we feel we have to be strong and protect ourselves against it – we ‘armour up’ to use Brene Brown’s phrase. But if the underlying principle of the universe is actually love, we can relax our grip and give ourselves to life more. We find that we come home to ourselves in a new way and become more fully the person we were made to be.
So whatever you are doing, whatever your situation at the moment, I wish you gentleness in whatever way you need it right now.