Transitioning with Self-Compassion

The times they are a-changin’. I used to wake up each morning at 6am or earlier. Now, JJ pushes me out of bed at 8:30, sometimes 9:30. There are days when I don’t get out of bed until just before lunchtime.

I used to work out intensely four times a week. Now, I’m lucky if I have the energy to slowly walk on the treadmill once a week.

I used to avoid pasta, rice, ketchup and soda like the plague. Now, they’re what make my stomach feel the best. They’ve become my comfort foods.

I used to be one with my computer. I couldn’t be without it (even on weekends away at the beach). Now, I can go days, weekends, maybe even weeks without turning one on.

I used to average one or two blog posts a week. It’s been almost a month since my last post.

I used to keep up with dozens of RSS feeds. Recently, I’ve cut out most of them and left just a select few of blogs that tell me beautiful stories.

I used to enjoy having glass or two of wine each weekend. Now, I can’t. Instead, I pick up JJ’s glass and smeeeeeell the wine. (Weird, I know.)

I used to pack my calendar tight, jumping from meeting to meeting and answering email after email. These days, I’m exhausted after a trip downstairs.

I used to loosely follow Intermittent Fasting, eating breakfast after 11am. Now, I have breakfast before getting out of bed (courtesy of the wonderful JJ).

I used to hate watching television. Over the past few months, I’ve become slightly addicted to Netflix, mostly 90210 and Twilight kind of stuff. (I have no idea…)

I usually travel to conferences a few times a year. This year, I’ve cancelled all conference-going plans.

And the list goes on and on…

What’s with all the changes?

In December, JJ and I found out that we’ll be welcoming a baby into our lives — and we couldn’t be happier! I’m over the moon with excitement, and I’m already itching to put the nursery together … even if I’ve got months before the baby arrives.

While the news is amazing, the amount of change my body has started to go through has rocked me more than I ever imagined. The morning sickness, the fatigue, the inability to follow the routine I’ve had in place for years, the lack of motivation…

While becoming a mom is awesome, this post is about overcoming change, no matter how intense.

If someone had told me months ago that my body and mind would change so drastically, I would have been anxious and scared. These recent changes rock the very core of my personality.

What I thought was my personality.

Intensity. Efficiency. Constant learning. One hundred things packed into one day. High profile meetings with high profile budgets. Always pushing the envelope. Making more and doing more each and every day.

Now… not so much. Most of that is gone.

What am I left with?

I’m left with the real me.

Now that I’ve been stripped bare of most of what I do and achieve, I’m left only with my real personality. Just me. My laughter, my silence, my sense of self.

You’d think I wouldn’t know what to do with myself now that I can’t workout as intensely as I did before or that I’ve lost my motivation to work or write like before. Maybe I should feel lost. Or frustrated. Or desperate.

But I’m not.

Instead, I feel kind of wonderful.

And it all comes down to one thing: self-compassion.

Who cares if I can’t do everything I used to do? Who cares if my body starts a new adventure everyday? Who cares if it took me more than a month to finish this post?

Reality is beautiful. Right now, this is my reality. And it’s awesome.

Will it be another month or so before I write something new? I don’t know.

Will I come out of this shell of fatigue and discomfort and go back to working hard? I don’t know.

Will I regain my strength and start working out in a few weeks? I don’t know.

What I do know is I’m loving this entire process. And the changes have only just begun.

Practicing Self-Compassion

I’m no self-compassion expert, but I’ve somehow managed to deal with all the morning sickness and fatigue with a surprising amount of ease and laugh-at-myself fun. At the same time, I’ve spoken to a few friends who’re wanting a bit more self-compassion for themselves as they go through their own kinds of drastic changes.

Because of all this, I thought it might be interesting to share some thoughts on self-compassion here for all of you.

No matter what kind of change you’re going through — positive or negative, small or drastic, easy or traumatizing — there’s a path that’s always open to you. It’s called going easy on yourself.

If you’re willing to try it out, here a few ideas that have worked for me:

  1. Let go, and accept. So what if things used to be a certain way? Instead of comparing, accept your current situation as it is. Internalize this image of things are right now.
  2. Stop expecting. Most self-compassion breaks down at our own expectations. Instead of expecting yourself to react or behave in a certain way, understand and forgive yourself for dealing with things in a certain way.
  3. Be friendly. I mean that literally. If a friend of yours were going through a similar situation, what would you say? You’d probably be caring and understanding. Extend yourself the same courtesy.
  4. Nurture yourself. If you’re naturally caring and nurturing with others, why not be the same way with yourself? Luckily, nurturing yourself is easier than nurturing others because you know yourself in and out. What makes you feel better? Give yourself a good dose of awesome when you need it.
  5. Be grateful for the lessons. As with most everything in life, there’s usually a silver lining to be appreciated. What are the lessons you’re picking up along the way? What could you be grateful for as you go through these changes? Try jotting them down to help cement the upside of what you’re going through.

I hope those help you in some way.

Our lives are full of transitions and changes. In my case, I’m starting a very happy transition, to one of being a mother. No matter what kind of transition I come across, though, I hope to face it with as much self-compassion as possible. I wish the very same for you.

Wishing you awesomeness!

— Marcella

PS. I still can’t believe that, ahhhhh, we’re having a babyyyyyy! I may or may not be doing a little celebratory dance over here. :-)

Photo credit: perrycolante