If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, it’s filled with posts berating politicians. Wait – I mean last year’s candidates. Not the people who are in office today. The people who ran and lost over a year ago.
Am I the only one groaning?
We don’t have to agree about politics. But we can agree on one thing: Constantly replaying the past just brings irritation. If you want to experience kindness, you need to be in the now.
In the November series, Love Yourself Up, we’re talking about how to show compassion. Think about the last time you were kind to someone. You were perceptive, seeing their fears or doubts. You were empathetic, taking the time to let them voice their feelings. What was the common denominator? Staying present.
When you’re present, you’re not trying to re-engineer the past or architect the future. Miracles can happen, because you’ve stopped pushing in one direction or another. Here’s how Meredith Walters described it:
“To allow my self-healing process to unfold with its full power, all I need to do is relax. When I stop trying so hard, I reconnect with my true self. I have access to the fundamental wisdom and strength we all share. When I trust my inner workings to do their thing and simply observe what’s happening without trying to change it, my ego relaxes and healing happens naturally.”
I had my own challenge last Winter to be in the now after my furnace broke down during a bitter cold snap. I called the furnace company at 4 AM, but then made myself go back to bed. Why? It was pointless to anxiously wonder if a pre-emptive service call would have helped. Scouring the internet, frantically putting calls out to companies I didn’t know, was equally unproductive.
What worked was trusting the process. And guess what? The journeyman technician arrived on time and got the furnace up and running within the hour. All that worrying wouldn’t have helped one bit.
This month, the people we’ve met are far from perfect. But amid their vulnerabilities and imperfection, they learned how to show themselves kindness, consideration and empathy, the qualities of compassion:
- In Handle the Quiet, Humans of New York profiled a man who had experienced constant trauma since childhood. He was at a loss defining the next chapter of his life, even though the crisis and stress had ended. His challenge was allowing open space and silence, rather than recreating more problems to solve.
- In The Table of Nope, we saw how practicing compassion includes course correcting. Sometimes the nicest thing you can do is quickly admit a mistake, laugh at yourself, then move on.
- We met Erin in Worn Out. Cancer gave her an unexpected opportunity to slow down. When she went back to work, she decided to keep the healthy practices she discovered post-surgery, including receiving help from others.
The next time you’re in a tough spot, avoid the temptation to play and replay your worst fears. Do you want to be kind to yourself? Stay still, fully available in the here and now.