Years ago, a thoughtful manager of mine wrote “be gentle on your soul” inside a beautiful journal she’d given me as a going away gift.
I was leaving my job to move across the world, in hopes of starting a new life in Scotland.
I was young and full of hope.
Both excited and nervous about taking such a huge leap of faith, into the unknown.
I’ve never forgotten how good it felt to open the cover of that journal, and read her words for the very first time.
Be gentle on your soul.
I loved the way those words sounded.
They resonated deep within me.
And gave me the permission, I unknowingly craved, to treat myself more kindly. As I took risks, and moved forward into the uncharted territory of my life.
Over the years, I’ve thought of her words many, many times.
And I’ve shared them with others. Whenever I felt a friend or loved one was being too hard on themselves. Or could use a break from their own tough inner critic.
Be gentle on your soul, I’d say.
It felt good to share those words with others.
To give them the same gift of self-compassion I’d first received from my thoughtful manager many years prior.
I think she understood, long before I did, that sometimes life can be tough on us. And that we can be equally as tough on ourselves.
Genuine self-compassion can go a long, long way in lifting us up, and easing our pain.
And creates a beautiful ripple effect on humanity as a whole.
I’ve come to realize the more kindness I give to myself, the more I have to give to others.
It truly IS a win-win.
But even now, many years (and moves across the world) later, I still need to be reminded of the power of self-compassion.
And to repeat those lovely words “be gentle on your soul” to myself.
To be reminded that the gift I so readily give to others, I must also give to myself.
Be gentle on your soul, Kerry.
Like many of life’s greatest lessons this one was repeated for me recently.
I’d just attended an intensive two-day workshop on public speaking. It wasn’t just an ordinary “how to” type of workshop but rather a dive into deep transformational work.
Facing ourselves head on.
Examining our fears. Our blocks. And our limiting beliefs.
The stuff I normally love to look at. Especially in an area like public speaking…where’d I’d let some fears from my past hold me back.
But after two long days of pushing myself, I was thoroughly exhausted.
And in need of some post-workshop down time.
I decided to go easy the next day. To rest and recover. And practice some much-needed self-care.
I sat in the sun for hours and got lost in a novel. I ate leftovers, had a bath, watched a movie and took it very, very easy.
It felt great to honour myself. To honour my body.
To replenish my energy and nourish my soul.
To pay attention to my inner voice, that always tells me what I need to do to take care of myself.
And helps me let go of any guilt that might stop me from doing it.
However the day after my “rest day,” I still felt exhausted.
Both physically and spiritually.
So I knew something else must be going on. Something much deeper. An internal shift of sorts.
I wasn’t quite sure.
Last year I’d experienced some significant changes in my life.
Some of my choosing, Some not.
Endings and losses, and the closing of some big life chapters.
This year was about opening new doors. And taking time to explore what was behind them. What inspired me. What resonated.
As well as what didn’t.
All of this self-inquiry required space.
Space to try new things – like the workshop – and see how they landed.
And felt in my body.
Based on my post-workshop exhaustion, I knew something big was up. I’d hit a nerve. And poked a very tender spot inside of me.
Clearly my body and spirit were still processing something.
The next phase? The next layer?
I didn’t quite know.
So in a quiet moment I took a breath. And asked myself what I needed to do in order to move through all that seemed to be shifting inside of me.
All that was wanting to be heard. And freed.
The message from within was loud and clear…
More rest? I asked.
YES! More rest, my spirit said.
Less doing. More be-ing.
Ahhhhh, OK. Got it.
In other words, more gentleness on my soul.
So I chose to listen and honour that message. To acknowledge how wise my body (and inner guide) is.
Sometimes doing less truly is doing more.
There’s a time for taking action. For pushing forward, and breaking down the walls.
And then there’s a time not to.
Instead it’s a time to rest. And reflect.
A time when you just need to sit with it all. With your thoughts and feelings.
With your own process.
A time to honour the quiet voice within that needs (wants!) to be heard.
It’s a time for breathing and walking.
For journaling. Reading. Meditating. Dancing.
For taking long, hot baths and replenishing naps.
A time for doing whatever helps you connect with your inner voice.
The voice of your soul. That’s whispering to you.
Reminding you to take care of yourself.
To take care of your health. Your heart. Your spirit.
To take whatever next step feels right for you.
Because when you listen – really, really listen – your intuition will guide you.
Just like mine did during those first few days after my workshop.
Once I’d given myself permission for more self-care and self-compassion my energy returned. As it always does.
I felt rested, renewed and regenerated.
And I was reminded, yet again, how my not doing had led me far more easily to my next steps, than my forced doing ever would have!
I was reminded that when I take the time to be gentle on my soul, I’m always guided to a better place.
A place that feels right for me.
One that leads me towards my best, most authentic, joyful life.
Because when we stop doing what we think we should do, and instead just do what feels kindest to our souls, miracles can and do happen.
We step into the flow. Clarity comes. And life can feel pretty darn sweet.
So, what about you?
Where are you in need of some loving self-care?
How can you be gentle on your soul?