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Thursday, September 12, 2013

What do you have to say to yourself?

I overslept today. Again. 

That's happened a few times lately. Even on days when I get up on time, my arrival time at work has been creeping back. I justify it by saying that I stay later at work to get things set up for the next day -- so my late arrival isn't a big deal.

But it's not irrelevant. I don't work by myself; I work with a team of people, and we have certain deadlines we have to meet every day, starting with internal planning ones and leading up to the shared ones that go into putting out three editions of a daily paper. My arrival time does have an effect.

Driving to work this morning, I realized that if I supervised myself, I would pull myself into the conference room and have a talk about it. I've had to do that a few times in the past.

I also realized that I would speak more kindly and gently to the person in the conference room than I do to myself. I would not ask that person why they can't get their act together or demand to know what their problem is. The thought would not flutter through my brain -- as it did with myself -- that they can't do anything right. "You're such a fuckup" is a sentence I would say only to myself.

When you love lovingkindness meditation, a lot of people trip up on extending kindness to themselves. We're not trained to do that. We're trained to achieve, to follow rules, to meet expectations. And when we don't do that, we can be hard on ourselves.

The first step toward changing that -- toward treating ourselves with the same care and respect we'd extend toward others -- is to notice what we say to ourselves. And that's where meditation is beneficial. If you sit with yourself and observe your thoughts, you notice that the same ones come around. And then you notice that out in the world.

And then, when you tell yourself that you're a fuckup, you can question that. I can't doa nything right? Really? Look around -- there's a lot here that I have done right. Do I need to improve some things -- like timeliness. Hell, yes. I know it, and I'm working on it.

Meditation practice isn't about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It's about befriending who we already are. - Pema Chodron