A love note to compassion & the power of stories

publishedabout 2 months ago
3 min read

On the last morning of our vacation, my family woke up at 5 am to see the sunrise. We thought maybe we'd get in a final swim or go canoeing.

Instead, we got pulled into an intense drama.

My son saw a duckling under the dock. All week we had been admiring how the mama took care of her babies. What was this one doing alone? Was he lost? We saw it wasn’t injured but still, where was Mama?

Then we saw her, looking for another duckling. Again, we worried. The water was really choppy. I mean, they’re ducks, but could one have been swept away?

And then, finally, much to our relief, the mama duck found her lost baby and reconnected with the little guy under the dock. They all swam away to start their day, leaving the four of us a soggy pile of emotions.

This is what we do, right? We take events and we turn them into stories. And while my family went through all the emotions, I love this about us, that we saw a small creature under the dock and felt for him. Maybe we overly humanized him, sure – maybe he was just relaxing and we imagined him alone and afraid – but I love that stories connect us to other creatures. We cared about that duckling. We loved him enough to give him a story. And that story made us feel compassion for him, to care about him and his well-being.

Do you love yourself enough to give yourself a compassion-building story? Often we pick the worst stories for ourselves. I'm not good enough. I have no discipline. I'm no good at this.

What if we commit to loving ourselves like that little duckling, giving ourselves stories that build compassion? What if we love ourselves enough to see that sometimes we need something – rest, connection, validation, confidence – but we are, ourselves, also perfect just as we are? Maybe we’re worried or lonely, maybe we’re exhausted underneath our own dock, but also, we are beautiful and brave.

Loving myself enough to give myself a compassionate story looks like:

  • Taking time at the end of the day to cheer all the things I did, instead of focusing on the things I didn't get to
  • Paying attention to the things I'm good at rather than hyper-focusing on the things that are difficult for me
  • Being curious when my anxiety leads me to overeat or over-scroll on social media, rather than judging myself for it

What's your list?

The best gift we can give ourselves is a good story. Write yours in a way that makes you feel closer to yourself, more self-compassionate, more loving of your own inner duckling. ❤️

One of the gifts of a good story is that it allows us to see ourselves in all our humanness -- our tenderness, good humor, emotional nuance; all of it. This is, surprisingly, one of the best ways to stay visible as we age. We think we need other people to see us, but first we can see ourselves. That's the topic of this week's podcast. Take a listen and let me know if it resonates for you.

Episode #61: How to not be invisible

Do you ever feel invisible?

So many of us do, especially as we age. We can't get the bartender's attention, salespeople look through us. Our family thinks the toilet paper is magically replaced by elves in the middle of the night. Invisible.

And then we stop seeing ourselves. We no longer feel vibrant and complex. When I'm in this place, it usually means that I'm doing everything for my family and feeling unseen and unappreciated. I say, "I'm the mule," or "I'm Dobby [from Harry Potter], waiting for someone to hand me a sock." I think of myself like an animal or a mythical creature -- less human.

The antidote to this isn't to change the bartender, salesperson, or your family (although you can try!). The antidote to feeling invisible as we get older is to embrace our own humanness. By increasing our tolerance for the hard parts of being human (eg, embarrassment, mistakes, mixed emotions), we let ourselves be visible. It's like a membership fee for the rather exclusive Human Club.

In this episode:

⭐ How a visceral, felt sense of the richness of adult humanhood keeps us connected to the pleasures of aging

⭐ How being invisible makes us less human

⭐ Why robots and AI aren't better at life than we are

⭐ How embracing mistakes as a membership fee for the human club increases our tolerance for them

Love, Rachel

P.S. If you look across the lake of your life and see something better in the distance -- more joy, more self-love, more confidence, better relationships -- and are looking for the boat that will get you there, reach out to me and we'll build it together. Coaching is a powerful way to bring distant dreams close, with someone who believes in you completely.

P.P.S. I know my writer friends might cringe at my overwrought metaphors -- the ducklings, the lake, the boat -- but this is who I am and it's best you know it. :)

if you know someone who will appreciate my words, can you please send this along?

website: coachingwithrachel.com

FB: facebook.com/rachelbaumcoaching

IG: @rachelbaumcoaching

email: rachel@coachingwithrachel.com

love notes: lovenotes.coachingwithrachel.com

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Rachel Baum

I'm a life coach, college professor, and former president of the Overthinkers Club. I also host the Making Midlife Magic podcast. I love helping middle aged people dream again and create lives they love.

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