This month Liberti is celebrating International Day of the Girl Child. We’ve been exploring what it’s like to be a girl today, and giving our best advice to our younger selves. But is it too late to take a bit of that advice now? As part of her Joy Experiment, Anna Jacklin has been treating herself as she would a small child.
The more I think about it, the more I realise that I am often not kind to myself. I see it in other people too; we might treat other people how we would like to be treated, but we forget to afford ourselves the same consideration. So this week, I decided to care for myself as I would a small child.
I started strong: on the first night of the challenge, I thought I’d get to bed nice and early. It was a good decision; I get up quite early and probably don’t get enough sleep on an average week, so I figured if I went to bed early enough I could experience the coveted eight-hour slumber. Excellent intentions; terrible delivery. I did that thing where I tried to go to bed too early, was subsequently tossing and turning and thinking all the deep philosophical thoughts as my too-awake brain rebelled at my premature lights out, and ended up falling asleep far later than I normally would.
My second attempt went far better. I normally go for a run on Tuesday mornings, and so I was woken up by my alarm nice and early on day two of this challenge, with every intention of sticking on my trainers and pounding that pavement. From the moment I woke up, however, I was feeling pretty gross and cold-y, and the weather seemed to be following suit, with endless grey raindrops hammering down from a listless dark sky. Now don’t get me wrong: I really enjoy running, but there’s often an element of having to force myself out of my warm comfy bed. Nevertheless, as I lay there, poking uncertainly at my sore throat and snivelling into some nearby tissues, I had a wonderful epiphany of self-preservation: if I was caring for a six-year-old who wasn’t feeling very well, would I wake them up early, deprive them of a fair chunk of healing sleep, and get them to run around in the rain for half an hour? Of course not! I wouldn’t even entertain the thought. Thus, in the spirit of this week’s challenge, I snoozed that alarm, buried my head under the duvet, and basked in the smugness of knowing I’d made a good decision.
My run rejection got me thinking: are the other areas of our lives where as adults, we don’t treat ourselves anywhere near as well as the way we treat children?
- Believing in Ourselves: I’d never tell any of the six year olds in my class that they’re not good at something. When it comes to children, we inherently understand that it could be incredibly damaging to turn around to a child wrestling with some addition and tell them they aren’t any good at maths. And yet we’re quick to do that to ourselves, and we’re often far too quick to dismiss our potential skill in something.
- Making Time for Play: We encourage children to play. Arguably, this weekend I did climb a tree, have a good old play fight and skip along the pavement, but even I don’t think I encourage myself to play enough. Play is important for adults too!
- Putting on the Pressure: We often put ourselves under unrealistic pressure. We’re good at knowing roughly what a child is capable of, and we wouldn’t set expectations ridiculously above what they can manage. Yet sometimes as adults we expect ourselves to be able to do a million and one things, juggle different responsibilities, do everything to an unrealistic standard, and manage it all without having a nervous breakdown.
- Not Taking Care of Our Needs: Sometimes when I feel pushed for time, my go-to time-saving strategy is to skip meals. It’s not disastrous, but it happens pretty regularly, and that’s probably not great: of course we wouldn’t make a child skip meals regularly because we’ve run out of time; we’d make sure their basic needs were met. The older I’ve got, the more and more I’ve realised that it’s so important to look after ourselves properly – and that’s something I need to work on.
Anna Jacklin is spending 2016 trying to add more joy into her life. You can join the Joy 2016 Experiment here. You can also read all about Anna’s day job as a Pioneer in her local community in the latest issue of Liberti Magazine.