Desiderata by Max Ehrmann is a 1927 prose poem. "Desiderata" (Latin: "desired things")
16. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
In Desiderata commentary #13, I wrote about my spiritual regimen which established the foundation of my “wholesome discipline.”
This was, and still is, my absolute favorite instruction. It gave me permission to be patient with myself while working toward being the person I was meant to be. I could still be self-critical, but didn't have to let it immobilize my progress, stunt my empowerment, or debilitate me.
Over a period of years, step by step, I eventually established a wholesome discipline. The health areas of my life that required discipline were healthy eating, physical condition, psychological, emotional, professional, spiritual, financial, mothering.
This instruction brought to mind the saying, “When we feel the burn, we know it's working.”, particularly in physical exercise. Let's be real. An exercise regimen is difficult enough to establish and maintain without discerning how much pain we are obligated to inflict upon ourselves. Who wants that?
If we're not gentle with ourselves, why would we expect others to be more genteel to us than we are to ourselves? Or to be kinder or more tolerant of us than we are to ourselves? To expect them to affirm on a daily basis that we have intrinsic value, although they have no clue as to our secret insecurities?
Being gentle with ourselves is loving ourselves unconditionally while accepting our imperfections. This allows us to take the time to examine these flaws or imperfections to re-frame them as strengths. We can recognize that there will be times when we can use those traits powerfully and effectively.
The same is true with our insecurities. We need to accept our insecurities as having a function until we can securely say otherwise. This doesn't preclude us from examining those insecurities to figure out how they originated and whether or not they're valid.
Finally, what really stands out for me in this instruction is that it gives us permission to put ourselves first. Not in a selfish self-centered way, but as an example to demonstrate to others what it looks like to be gentle with oneself while practicing a wholesome discipline.
It's never too late to incorporate this salient, empowering instruction into our living. We can promise ourselves to be our own BFF rather than our own worst enemy.
Thank you for reading. What are your thoughts?
Dedicated to my sons, Jibri and Chris, my privilege and blessing. EcwmB