on hats and self compassion

IMG_7230As predicted, that “arctic blast” arrived several days ago and just spread itself all over everything. The cold is permeating our lives for awhile, so that we’re very conscious of our gratefulness in those moments when we’re cozy and warm.

I’m the kind of person who gets cold easily, so I am always bundling up against the weather. Even indoors, I buttress myself against the elements with sweaters and jackets, and on the worst days, a hat. And heading outside to brave the elements, I layer up, surrounding myself practically up to my nose with my jacket and two scarves and a hat. (Except, of course, on a run, when two tech shirts and a windbreaker do the job!)

I have an acquaintance that works hard every day, and is frequently out of doors. I never see him wear a hat or gloves against the cold. I complain to him that he needs to bundle up a little better. He scoffs at me, even as he sniffles with the head cold he has not been able to shake. I explain to him it’s about being good to himself, and that he deserves it. With a little further encouragement, he eventually gets himself a hat. Now, the trick is to get him to wear it. Being good to oneself is, for some of us, a difficult concept.

This is one of the roads I have been walking myself lately. My eyes were opened, of course, the hard way, to the essential of self-compassion. It is, obviously, about more than wearing a hat when it’s cold, but the hat makes a good reminder. I had to learn to recognize, acknowledge and honor when I hurt inside or have needs, emotional or otherwise. It sounds so ridiculously simple and natural and obvious, but for me self-compassion was truly a discovery and one I had difficulty embracing. We are not, however, put here on this earth to simply survive and suffer through it.

I am still learning self-compassion. It’s not about creature comforts or material things, but about allowing our feelings, setting boundaries, protecting and nurturing a vulnerable or wounded self. I validate that I am here, that I have feelings, and that the full spectrum that is me is okay.

Sometimes that concept may extend to things like making sure I get good nutrients, comfort or warmth, or pleasant experiences to the extent that it’s possible – simply being gentle and caring with myself.

So, oddly enough, I recognize myself in this business of wearing a hat. And whether this concept matters to my friend or not, I hope he will be good to himself – and wear a hat, dammit.

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