Most of us boomers and beyond are pretty good at taking care of others. We’ve had enough practice. Whether when raising children, watching over nieces and nephews, or taking care of our parents as their health faded. We know how to wipe chins, listen to tearful confessions, and hold a wrinkled hand.
And yet, when it comes to taking care of ourselves, we often fall short.
A friend tells us about a situation that is causing pain, and we offer advice. Someone we love worries over an injustice and we bristle over the fact that anyone would hurt our loved one. Yet we find it hard to be as protective of ourselves.
Oh, it will be okay. We’re fine. Yes, it hurt, but we’ll get over it. Oh, we’re sure they didn’t mean to be so rude.
It’s wonderful to be kind and forgiving to others. But why is it sometimes so hard to be that way towards ourselves?
Maybe we forget we even have the power to really be kind to our inner self. We want others’ approval; we want to fit in; we want to do what “is right.” Yet perhaps what we need most right now at this point in our lives is our own approval.
Our own forgiveness.
I doubt anyone gets to the boomer and beyond status without making a few mistakes. Not achieving a goal we just knew we would accomplish. Missing out on a major career opportunity. Letting that true love get away.
So we think we’ve failed.
But I don’t agree. I think that many times, that “wrong road” we took actually was right where we needed to be.
We learned a lot, grew stronger, and probably discovered things about ourselves and others that we would never have known had we been “successful”.
Do we greet each day with anticipation?
Is there a moment of happiness each day, or at least contentment?
Can we find a reason to laugh each day?
And most of all, do we treat ourselves gently, with respect, love, and a little slack?
I think each of us has earned, and deserves, that much. Remember the 1986 book “How to Be Your Own Best Friend”? It was all about self-love and acceptance, and it was somewhat ahead of its time. There were critics who thought that being your own best friend was an odd idea. Yet those who embraced it cheered how for the first time, they felt permission to just be who they are.
And it was a reminder of how important it is to feel okay in your own skin. Which after 50+, 60+, 70+, and beyond years, feels pretty good.
Scars and all.
“I celebrate myself, and sing myself.”