Desiderata…Be Gentle With Yourself

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.


This is another stanza that really gets to me, and my constant internal struggle with myself.  I love extending grace to other people; I like to anticipate the best in other people and celebrate when it happens.  Even when people disappoint me, I do my best to be gentle and kind (sometimes after venting to my husband for a moment).  I expect other people to make mistakes and do wrong and fail.  That’s part of being human.  However, when I do those things (and I do them often) I am anything but gentle with myself.  I can be downright cruel to myself. 

I fall off my diet and tell myself I’ll always be fat.
I get the answers wrong and think I’ll never get them wrong.
I forget to do something and am convinced the world will crumble.
I make a mistake and expect not to be forgiven.

what is wrong with me? Why is it so easy to be kind to others, but so hard to be kind to myself?  I don’t get it.  Now, I know that I do this, so I work hard to be less cruel to myself.  I try to extend myself the same kind of grace.  Have a bad week at weight-watchers?  Pick up the book and start counting the points again.  Get something wrong?  Learn the right answer.  Do what you forgot to do and get over it.  Accept you will make mistakes, and expect people to be kind and forgive me – because that’s what people do!

Being kind to yourself is very hard.  I don’t know why.  It’s hard to accept your own foibles and faults…and love yourself through them anyway.  It’s hard to lower your expectations of yourself.  I have super high expectations of myself.  And, because I always expect more than I think is even possible, I am always disappointed in myself.  And that’s not healthy, and not how I’m supposed to live. 

When I get angry with myself or down on myself, I often quote this stanza to myself, especially the part about having a right to be here.  I forget that, sometimes.  And, the subtext is this – I was created by a God who is infinitely creative – and this is how He made me.  When I am cruel to myself, and I cruel to God.  I am telling God that what He created was not good enough – and that I think I could do better.

Reminding myself of that shuts my mouth and puts my heart on the right track pretty quickly.

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