Today I feel like an old rubber band that’s been stretched too many times. I feel like there’s not strong enough windshield wipers in the world to hurl off the shit that’s been flung up onto the window. I feel like a jar of acidic pennies that was shaken angrily but now lies silent and queasy. Eff.
Yesterday was a strange type of shutdown for me - I lost a few hours to the fetal position. And that was before I learned about Vegas. I was so caught up in my own chaos that I couldn't check the news.
I think in addition to the direct political action we should all be taking now, the world needs a whole lot of compassion and kindness right now. It’s been sucked out of our bones and replaced by a trembling fear that breaks us down. We’re tired.
Today I want to reflect on compassion (and it's roots in self-compassion), because if we can undertake the long journey towards being kind and patient with ourselves, we can be kind and patient with others. It won’t fix everything, it won’t bring any of the victims back into this world, but it’ll make the tiniest bit of difference in our day-to-day lives that we all need right now.
You never know who’s struggling. Giving a little grace to someone could very well be the difference in their day, which could have ripple effects into their whole life.
I struggle even writing about self-compassion when so many others need our help. I desperately wish for a world where we know that can help ourselves and help others at the same time - self awareness & love can only help our outward lives and the lives of those around us.
What I’m trying to say is this: no tragedy should be about you. But tragedies like this should cause you to shut down momentarily, to reevaluate the energy you’re putting out in this world, to reevaluate yourself as a human - are you a good one? Could you be better?
Tragedies like this should find you asking yourself if you’re living your life the fullest, and should find you asking if you’re living your life in a way that truly, positively affects those around you.
Don’t be a drain, we have enough of those already. Be a plug. Or better yet? Be a fucking faucet.
So here are my dumb ways to spread a little more compassion.
Instead of commuting with that blank look on your face where your lips poof out and your eyes go dull, find a good song on the radio. Play it loud and allow it to make you smile. Be a happy driver, even when the person behind you is a complete poop - smile at them while you sing “I’ve got one hand in my pocket, and the other one is givin a HIGH FIVE.”
Positive affirmations are so cliché and maybe you don't believe they'll work for you ,but worst case scenario you take a few minutes of your day to say something lovely about yourself. How can that hurt? Remind yourself that you are a kind person, and that you deserve kindness from yourself. If you struggle speaking to yourself with kindness, find a kind friend who will do it for you. Learn from them - and tell them something kind, too.
Clip your nails and shave your legs and tell yourself it’s because you love your body. Making a big deal out of those things that can be daily stressors actually makes them feel like you’re getting away with something. Sneak a little toothbrushing sesh in because you're in love with the feeling of fresh teeth - not because you worry about how to lie to your dentist for the millionth time about your oral hygiene routine.
Get your partner or roommate or coffee shop table neighbor a glass of water. If they’re working away, they’ve probably forgotten that they need water. It’ll be nice because they’ll be way less grumpy from dehydration later and you won’t have to deal with it - it’s a win-win.
Text your friend your favorite emoji and nothing else. They’ll know what it means, or maybe they won’t. Either way, they’ll get all warm and fuzzy knowing you chose them. 🗿
Tip your barista or your skating waitress extra big.
Tell someone something embarrassing about yourself - be human, be vulnerable. I finally shared how much my neck hair has been ruining everything, and guess what? My friend has bonus hair that she has to deal with too, and it became way more funny than sad. I actually laughed about the very neck hair that has caused me years of agony.
After telling someone about your neck hair, tell them how much you love them. It’s so weird the first time you tell a friend that you love them but I promise - everyone benefits. Has anyone else experienced this? Just me?
Learn something new, especially if it’s about a different culture or different piece of history that you’re unfamiliar with. Read something that makes you uncomfortable. Face facts, listen quietly to stories, especially if you’re whiter than a Twinkie like me. Sit your ego down in its little corner and make room at the table for voices that are different than yours.
Stay out of the comments section - don’t read comments under news stories or tweets that respond to kindness with hatred. It’s toxic, and there’s no Brita filter in the world that could take all of the poison out of social media before we consume it.
And get out into the world. I’m dragging my feet on this one because it’s a tough one. It takes effort and time to help others, but I know for sure that I could reallocate some of my weekly Instagram hours to serving up food at a soup kitchen or tutoring kids that need a little extra love.
But please, I beg of you, don’t let tragedies keep you bitter. Don’t let them prevent you from living, and from loving the only life we know for certain that we'll get.