By: Mary L. Collins
Resolutions. Dreaded, resolutions.
What will yours be for 2017?
More exercise? Better diet? Finally cleaning out that “catch-all” drawer in your kitchen?
How about – be a little kinder to yourself and less self-critical?
Statistically, less than 50% of people who make New Year’s resolutions (1 in 3 of us does) are still on track with their resolution 6 months later. Most crash and burn (54% to be exact) within the first month. And, as we age, our resolve to even suggest a resolution for the new year wanes.
So why do we do it?
One person called it, “A triumph of hope over experience.” It is our desire to do better and to achieve more that propels us forward into the “resolution zone.” And, in that thought, comes this idea of being kinder to and less critical of ourselves.
So how does that happen while we’re smack dab in the middle of the season of giving?
Hard to say. But let’s try.
I was told by a friend and colleague recently that, “Your compassion is your Achilles heel.” Interesting assessment! Yes, I do all that I can to consider others’ feelings and needs and to be kind. It’s how I was raised and it’s the way I want to conduct myself in the world. I truly think it is right to set the best example I can for myself, for my son, and for anyone in my ever-widening circle. But, perhaps, my friend was right. In my quest to do good and right things, am I reluctant to include the self-care that I need in order to function at my best? Do I rest on self-criticism because whatever I did or didn’t do in some particular situation wasn’t quite “up to standard,” not quite “good enough?” Yep, my friend may be right. I bet you do the same things and evaluate yourself almost exactly as I do. Hopeless self-sacrificers, aren’t we!
The fact is, among people within the healthcare field, it is our job to “care.” Caring, is, after all, our mission and mandate. Nurses, therapists, nursing assistants, hospice volunteers, personal care attendants and all others who serve have a responsibility to provide respectful, professional care to our patients and clients. To shirk this duty is not only acting out of integrity, it can also be an actionable offense. Truly, I believe those who are in helping professions really do enjoy and gain deep satisfaction from helping and providing care. We just aren’t always as good at providing it in equal measure to ourselves.
Have you ever seen an overweight nurse? Met a therapist who smokes? Known a volunteer who looks tired or distracted? Might you be one of these people yourself? If so, I ask you to consider a thought that may make a huge difference in your wellbeing; and, perhaps, as a result, will present a stronger you to whoever you care for and about. It is this:
“Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.”
– Christopher Germer*
Easier said than done. So, now, here’s where you need to make your list.
What are the 5, no, 10 things you do for others that you are reluctant to also do for yourself, if you even do them at all?
MAKE TOP TEN LIST HERE
1 – 10
Now, go back and number that list in order of the item where you give the most to others and the least to yourself – in descending order. Let’s call it the:
TOP 10 WAYS I IGNORE MY OWN NEEDS LIST
1 – 10
So as not to sabotage your resolution success, circle the first three items on the list.
THE FIRST THREE ITEMS ON MY TOP 10 LIST ARE:
Copy and print these first three items and paste them on:
- Your calendar
- Your car visor
- Your bathroom mirror
- Wherever you are likely to see the list every day
Now, promise that you will resolve in 2017 to do, or, at least attempt to do these three things better for and toward yourself. The world will manage. Trust me, it will.
Happy New Year!
* Christopher Germer, PhD is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Arlington, Massachusetts, specializing in mindfulness and compassion-based psychotherapy. He is a founding member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School, author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, and co-editor of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy and Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy: Deepening Mindfulness in Clinical Practice. Dr. Germer lectures and conducts workshops internationally on the art and science of mindful self-compassion.
Mary L. Collins is the Marketing Director at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice. A 2014 Home Care Elite Top Agency, LHH&H is one of eleven VNAs of Vermont home health and hospice agencies serving Vermont. She also serves as Marketing Director at The Manor, a 4 star nursing home and short term rehabilitation facility in Morrisville, VT, and she chairs the Lamoille Region Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.