A few years ago, I met a woman called Rachel, a devoted mom of two boys, brimming with talent and capability (much of it packed away like beautiful items in a hope chest), who was experiencing a major challenge.
Her lack of self-compassion was wreaking havoc in her life.
Like so many women who are caring for family members or kids, she was caught in the belief that other people’s needs were her needs.
She believed that she had to anticipate and fulfill other’s needs, and shower them with love and compassion in order to be worthy. It was all up to her.
(Does this sound familiar?)
To turn toward herself with that same love and compassion felt somehow wrong, even dangerous.
So many of us live for too long in this parched desert, devoid of the soothing waters of self-compassion.
That’s why I feel so fiercely passionate about the ritual I’m sharing today and have shared before. This simple daily ‘Re-Mothering Ritual’ encouraged Rachel’s sense of a strong independent self to take root and grow.
I’ve watched it do the same thing for thousands of women I’ve had the honour to work with.
Image: Brian Kirhagis
Ritual is essential to our way of being in the world as humans.
It is built into our very structure.
The Swiss child psychologist Jean Piaget describes how the basic daily rituals of dressing, eating, going to bed all get activated in children around the age of three. They insist on doing things in a particular order and will be fierce in their defense of these rituals if a parent forgets the system. This is how we learn initially to structure and make meaning of a complex world of options.
Whether it’s a large community ritual – like all the collective rites that go on around a wedding and even the Super Bowl in the US – or the simple rituals of preparing food, eating together with family and friends during a holiday time, we need the healing power of ritual.
Words alone simply cannot adequately convey all that moves through our hearts and our bodies – especially during difficult times. We need another language that engages the unconscious and the fullness of our sensory natures. Music, symbols, metaphors, dance, art, theatre have all been powerfully used for millennia to help humans through times of transition.
Back to Rachel, whose tendency to lose herself in the care of others (in order to receive their love) was leaving her on the sidelines of her life, in a powerless support position that she accepted on the surface, but bitterly resented underneath. The rhythm of a simple daily ritual helped her see how hard she was being on herself, and how little time or attention she gave to her own inner world of thoughts, feelings and sensations.
Over time, it was amazing to watch her become capable of treating herself as a precious being, as well as championing herself through life’s challenges.
Collectively, we’re witnessing the need for an evolution of human consciousness that will give us expanded capacity to handle the challenges of the deeply complex world we find ourselves in.
Ritual can be a powerful ally in this quest.
For the first time, the scientific and mystical worlds are actually converging and ritual sits sweetly in this meeting place. The ancient understanding of the universe as an organic intelligence is aligning with a scientific worldview that is revealing a universe consisting of interrelated energy fields that transcend ordinary space/time limitations.
Ritual is poised to become a powerful meaning-making language that can bridge between the seen and the unseen worlds, helping us to upgrade how we live, love and lead in our everyday lives. And it is a homebase language of a Mysterial.
Daily Re-Mothering Ritual for Self-Compassion and Resilient Leadership
Image: Gun Legler
This ritual helps you to:
- mother yourself
- make space to listen to your feelings and respond to them
- listen to your body and respect its limits
- listen to your intuition
- welcome your creativity
- protect yourself by making decisions that support your well-being
Does your inner mother know best?! This ritual shows us that, yes, she pretty much always does.
Just as you would with a child, this process of inner mothering needs to be cultivated as a regular part of your daily morning experience.
1. Ask yourself the following question: “What do you need and want today that will allow you to feel a sense of love, safety, well-being and belonging?”
2. Allow your Being (the totality of your body, heart, mind and spirit) to respond. You may be surprised by what she says, either through quiet inner words, feelings, intuitive impressions, or subtle energy moving in your body.
3. Embody the archetype of the ‘wise Mother’, and translate the desire into something that is doable today. For example, if you’re longing for a day off to luxuriate in a spa and you know you need to work, you might suggest a compromise: a soak in your tub in the evening.
Examples of Being Desires:
- I need 15 minutes of quiet time alone today.
- I need my shoulders to be massaged.
- I want to be with good friends and feel a deep sense of belonging.
- I need a nap this afternoon followed by a cup of hot tea.
- I want a hot bubble bath at the end of the day with soft music playing.
- I need a hot sweaty workout.
- I want to laugh and tickle my son.
- I want to walk barefoot on the beach.
- I want to prepare a great meal and share it with my family.
- I want to share a story with my friends on social media.
- I want to work in my garden for a bit today.
Image: Tristan Elwell
Your learning will accelerate if you take a few minutes to journal about your experiences. What did your Being call you to do? What change, if any, did you notice in yourself after you satisfied your Being desire? How might that affect how you approach tomorrow or the rest of the week?