One of the most important things I have learned in the past few years is the importance of meeting myself where I am. Whether that’s in the realm of my career, my personal relationships, my spirituality, my skill levels in various things, my finances, etc., one of the most impactful and positive things I can do for myself is be where I am with each of those things. Where else would I be you ask? Well, often times I show up where I want myself to be, where I think I should be, or where others are…not where I actually am in that moment.
For example, the other day I downloaded an app for my phone to help me practice my French (I really want to be able to use some conversational French when I travel to Paris in a few months). The app starts by giving you an opportunity to either start with the basics or try to test out of that section. Well, I had been studying French on and off for several months now, so surely I could test out of the basics. Not the case. I failed the “test out” quiz and had to start the program from the very beginning. Big deal, right? Well, immediately my “ego mind” went to town – “You failed the “test out” quiz for the basics! The basics! You are never going to learn enough French to speak conversationally at this rate.”…you get the idea. I (my “ego mind”) was located over at the place where I wanted to be in my French language acquisition not where I really was with it. Where I really was located with my language skills was needing to start back at the basics and build from there. The truth was I did know a lot of the vocabulary but my grammar and verb tenses were my trouble spots. I had made some good progress in the few months of irregular study that I had previously committed to, so how unfair was it of me to stand in such harsh judgment of myself from a place other than where I was in that moment.
Similarly, I could offer examples related to my yoga practice, to my overall health and fitness, to my writing, etc. – in each case I am looking back at myself from either that place where others have already reached or that place where I want to be personally with those things. Rarely do I meet myself where I really am with those things.
Those are simple examples, but the reality of it is we all do this to ourselves over all sorts of topics…our job, how much money or debt we have, how we look, the material possessions we have (or don’t have yet), where we are in our lives at our current age, our relationships, our skills and talents, etc. We can be quite relentless with ourselves in this arena. I am sure you know what I mean. How often have you done this to yourself? And at what cost?
Whether we are looking back at ourselves from the place we want to be or from that place where someone else is already at, we are laying unfair and hurtful judgments on ourselves. We are judging ourselves for not being “there” yet, for the slow speed at which we are moving toward that place, and for our inability to get there like all the others before us have. And what’s worse is that the place we are trying to get to is a moving target. Despite the progress we make, we never “make it” because that benchmark keeps moving (because other people keep progressing too or because our “ego mind” just keeps raising the expectations). Such negative thoughts, belittling, shame, and anguish bestowed upon us by our own selves! It is an incredibly sad state of affairs. It is so easy to stand in judgment from those other places. It is much harder to find the courage, self-compassion, and understanding to be with ourselves in those places where we actually are in those moments. We don’t give ourselves the credit for the progress we have made. We don’t love and support ourselves for all our hard work. And what I find even more interesting is the fact that we would never think to treat a friend or family member like that, yet we do it to ourselves all the time.
What we need to practice is more love, compassion and understanding toward ourselves and less comparison, judgment, and unfair expectations. Be in the moment with yourself, wherever you are. Embrace the journey and the progress you have made. And if some days you take one step back for every two steps forward, that’s okay too…it is all a part of your journey. It’s not easy. And it is a practice that I continually work on every day…but it is so worth the effort…you are worth the effort. Chances are you’d do it for a friend or family member, so do it for yourself too. Be there with yourself. Support and love yourself. One step at a time. You will get to that place where you want to be, but only through love, self-care, and understanding.
“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball