In the past several weeks, we’ve talked about supporting our friends as they go through the hardest things. Some sorrows are deeply serious, but others are simply the sad moments of life. It might be the bittersweet milestone of kindergarten that’s got us down for a bit or a fractured friendship or an injury. Or just one of those inexplicable days when the odds seem decidedly against us.
For most women I know, a typical response to a sad day would be to soldier on, though that’s probably not the advice most of us would offer our friends in their times of sadness. I find I’m often disappointed in myself when I’m not feeling up to par; I feel frustrated and wish for the emotional energy to get off that rocky road as quickly as possible. When I’m feeling down, I often ask more of myself than I would on other days.
A few months ago, when my dear friend Meg shared a challenging day on Instagram, one of her friends suggested gentleness. “Be gentle with yourself,” Meg’s wise friend counseled, and Meg responded with appreciation, and the realization that gentleness was exactly what she needed. I’d had a similar experience — yes, that’s what I need! — when a friend offered the same idea to me a few months earlier, and the two experiences got me thinking about how this simple approach of being gentle might be difficult to apply to ourselves, though — again — we’d readily suggest it to our friends.
Why it doesn’t come easier is a bit of a mystery, but I feel sure it’s a skill, or perhaps an art, that we can learn if we’ll let ourselves. Do you know the book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy? It’s a treasure published in the mid-90s, and author Sarah Ban Breathnach shares a pretty great idea for treating ourselves right when the world seems wrong. She calls it the “comfort drawer,” and suggests a designated drawer, lined with pretty paper and good smells, where you can “stockpile small indulgences throughout the year.” Her comfort drawer holds things like chocolate truffles (wise), bath salts, a satin eye mask, a personal scrapbook, unusual teas, good magazines. We know those rough days are coming, so why not be prepared with a cache of soul soothing luxuries?
Do you have the equivalent of a comfort drawer? What are your tried-and-true methods for dealing with personal sadness? Your favorite comforting indulgences? And are you as good at being gentle with yourself as you are with others?