I don’t really have a history of setting new years resolutions for myself, and on the few occasions I did, I’d approach them only halfheartedly. They’re not really my thing.
I do like the concept of intentions, or choosing a word for oneself. 2020 started out so hopeful and then quickly plunged into survival mode. I entered 2021 with an extremely low bar, and although I didn’t set a word at the time, looking back it was probably something like cope.
I’ve thought a bit about what I want my word or intention to be for this year. I want to keep it realistic and relevant. I’ve decided on self-compassion. It’s high time I give myself a fucking break, stop beating myself up all the time, and start being uber mindful of just how often I cut myself down. It’s almost constant – much more than I’ve been willing or able to admit to myself. The problem is that it’s so deeply ingrained that I couldn’t recognize it until someone else – usually my therapist – would point it out.
I’ve started doing this thing that I’ve done for clients many times before but never got around to doing for myself: I’m focusing on reparenting myself. I have identified a voice within myself and I have personified this being as my inner loving parent, and this person is going to give me all the judgement-free love and encouragement and sensitivity I needed as a kid and that I still need now. This may sound very woo-woo, but please trust me that the work is incredibly impactful.
Often times it helps to personify this part of oneself in order to give it life and body and meaning. It didn’t take any work, really, because two characters popped into my head once this concept was explained to me. For me, my loving parent is two sides of a coin: on one side, she’d Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz. She has a huge puffy pink dress and a magic wand and a soft voice and she giggles and calls me honey. She gives the best hugs and reminds me to be kind to myself. I realized later, after I chose her, that she’s also the one who gently tells Dorothy that she had the power to fulfill her deepest wish the whole time. Go figure. The other side of my inner loving parent is Mary Poppins. She’s a British nanny who doesn’t take any bullshit from anyone and sets firm and healthy boundaries. She also sings the best lullabies and makes the world a more fun and happy place to be. She tells me that my inner critic is complete rubbish and has my back at all times. She can also perform magic.
When I told my therapist about the two connected personalities of my inner loving parent, she summarized them as the comforter and the protector, respectively. Nail on the head.
The personification of my inner critic is still taking shape. While I felt like I had to unearth and go find my inner loving parent, my inner critic is always present. She never fucking sleeps. I picture her sitting in a chair in the corner in the dark, smoking a cigarette and glaring at me while I’m asleep in my bed each night. Mary Poppins would tell her to go take a hike. At any rate, the first image that came to mind was Miss Hannigan from Annie, the original one played by Carol Burnett. She stumbles around and yells. She’s a drunk and she’s miserable and she hates kids. But, I also feel like my inner critic needs to have a more cleaned up side. Meaning, my critic takes the form of an authority figure who is rigid, perfect, to the letter. On my better days, I’m able to shove Miss Hannigan into a closet and lock the door because she doesn’t have her shit together. But my big, bad critic has power and is fucking terrifying. I’ll think more on this. (Just had this idea while editing – maybe something like a Miranda Priestly? That’s all.)
At any rate, I’m working through being mindful of who is in charge of my inner dialogue at any given time. Who is driving my bus, if you will. If I become aware that Miss Hannigan is drunk behind the wheel, I’ll call on Mary to put her back in her place and I might call on Glinda to tell me that I’m safe and she’s not going to let the bus crash into a tree.
Again, I know this sounds ridiculous on some level, but even simply mapping out the pieces of me like this has brought me comfort. I plan to go looking for a little figurine of Glinda and Mary to have as reminders. My therapist asked me to draw her as one person, and that should be fun.
All of this is with the goal of being kinder to myself. I already know that that will trickle down to how I treat others in my life. It’s impossible to give out what you don’t have.
And so. Here’s to 2022. I’m going to be more self-compassionate.