Hypocrite: a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs ~ (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
Leah is the kind of woman we all want to have in our lives. She’s fun, easy to talk to, and fiercely compassionate. If you’ve got a problem or need some tenderness and friendship, Leah is your go-to girl.
When her mother fell ill, Leah moved her into her home and rearranged her whole life to support her mother’s healing. She said it was an “honor” to support her mother. Leah made her home a sanctuary filled with light, flowers, music, and inspiration. She worked a little less, grew vegetables in her garden, and made fresh elixirs and tonics for her mother.
Leah’s husband, Michael, a Wall Street executive, lost his job at the height of the recession. She welcomed him home with loving support, deep understanding, and belief in him. She picked up extra work as a consultant and stoked her husband’s confidence by highlighting his many prior successes and triumphs. It took eighteen months for Michael to find a comparable job. Michael credits Leah with surviving what he calls the most destabilizing event of his life. She loved and supported him all the way through.
Leah’s best friend, Jen, endured a bitter divorce this year. She’s spent the last eleven months spending most of her savings on legal bills. Jen is angry, and raw, and often succumbs to overwhelming pessimism. It’s a challenge for most people to spend any length of time with her, but Leah—with her gifts of compassion and understanding—can spend hours with Jen. Leah says that being there for someone who’s suffering is the greatest gesture of love one can make.
This summer, Leah learned that she has an auto-immune disorder. While not life-threatening, it causes her significant pain and debilitating exhaustion. Managing it and reducing its occurrence requires a serious commitment to extreme self-care. She must eat certain foods, avoid others, get 8–10 hours of sleep, exercise daily, take supplements, see a specialist, and work less.
Stunningly, the version of Leah who loves, nurtures, and feels endless compassion for others, is nowhere to be found. Instead, she’s critical, judgmental, and irritated with herself and her illness. She’s pissed at her body for “being weak” and resists giving herself the level of care that would make her disorder manageable. She refers to herself with insulting names, like lazy, tubby, and loser. Instead of asking the people in her life—who love her immensely—for support and care, Leah attempts to hide her pain and fatigue. It’s taking a destructive toll on everyone.
I meet women enacting some form of Leah’s scenario regularly. Women are natural nurturers who care, support, encourage, and love others. We do it for strangers and people close to us. Yet, when we need our own care the most, many of us abandon ourselves. We don’t treat ourselves the way we would treat someone else in the same situation. We betray our values and beliefs and withhold the love that would help us the most—our own. We become hypocrites by contradicting the value system we live by with others.
Your situation may not be as significant as Leah’s, but any discrepancy between the kind of compassion and kindness you give to others and the kind you give yourself deserves your attention.
As the Buddha so perfectly explained,
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the
entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
The cause of this emotional hypocrisy may be the pervasive belief in being “not good enough” or unworthy of unconditional love. And while the source of this belief is interesting—and one could spend a decade talking about it in therapy—you can decide to put an end to this self-sabotaging behavior today.
The next time you’re sick, exhausted, hurting (emotionally or physically), or dealing with a challenge, take a few minutes and imagine someone you love dealing with the exact same situation. Ask yourself how you’d feel about them and what you’d do for them. Notice how you’d refrain from incessant criticism, judgment, irritation, and impatience. Observe how you’d come up with ways to create more ease and support for your loved one. Take notes and let them guide your self-care and treatment.
Do you treat others in need better than you treat yourself when you’re in need?
What ONE thing are you willing to do more or less of so that you are as good to yourself as you are to others? Leave a comment and let me know.
I’l;l try to not be so negative and self-depreciating w/ myself.
I support you deb!
I am Leah. I have been the care giver of many. Some all at the same time. I took this in stride….in retrospect wearing like a badge, all I did and worked as well. I too have an auto immune situation, while Leash may be , ,,fictional , I assure you,I am not. What am I willing to do. Take your advice. On the days I don’t feel well, instead of pushing through, think. Release the shame that goes along with the illness. Or I have attached to it. It’s still a work in progress.
To me the choice to put yourself at the top of your priority list is part of your healing from what ails you. See your doctor, follow good health habits, and LOVE yourself. To your health!
I will try to be less critical of myself.
Brenda Lance, when you catch yourself being less than lovely to yourself, just smile and let it go. Follow it with a question like: what have I/what do I do well? In time there’ll be a shift. You deserve this. Love to you.
Thanks for your encouragement and your articles. They are very helpful.
I am Leah and it hit me at 3:33 this morning and then this article arrived in my email to reinforce it and remind me that I have to treat myself as I treat others. I just said to someone over breakfast that what I have to do is learn to say no to things I don’t really want to do and say yes to the things that my soul cries out for
Of all the self-help practices in the world, this may be the very best, lightgirl. Give it to yourself. Learn to actively love yourself, set healthy boundaries, honor your needs, and know that it’s the “right” thing. I support you! 🙂
I need to be less critical of myself and learn to stop hiding my pain emotionally and physically. I need to be there for me, forgive myself, accept that I need to love myself and care for my health all of the time. This article was amazing and I will be trying, thinking of myself as someone else and how I’d be there to help them any way possible. I have a son who’s on the Autism Spectrum as well as other delays and its hard to keep up with my emotions and health problems that can be debilitating and painful. I loose myself in bouts of anxiety and depression I find difficult to get out of. So thank you for your article.
This looks like an excellent recipe for self-care. Put it where you can see it and acknowledge yourself for the heavy load you’re carrying. Hugs to you, Amanda.
Thank you, sure am trying. (;
Amanda you are not alone! There are a lot of women going through varying situations where we find ourselves giving out extreme care on a regular basis. I found I had to carve time out for myself in order to fit in my self care (myself care! Interesting connection) . I wake up extra early on Thursdays so that in between taking my husband to work and dropping my daughters off at school, there is an hour in there from 630 am to 730 am where I go to my church and attend a women’s Bible study group! They are a fabulous group of women, and like me are caring and nurturing moms, girlfriends, daughters and wives but once a week, we go to that Bible study and it is something that we do for our own Spiritual growth. It is fantastic to be able to do that and it opens up more ways you can start to take your life back. We discuss hobbies and ways to get together to pursue them (more time back) we discuss solutions to difficult situations (solving our challenges by leaning on wisdom from others – reaching out). I hope you can find resources where you are and join a group of women going through similar experiences and if not, look for a group online. Research more about what is going on with your body and health then make the time to follow the recommendations so that you can be fully present, energized and ready to continue on the amazing journey that is life. You can always contact me too if you just need a friend to talk to. We can remind each other to be more self nurturing! In my opinion, Cynthia is the best thing since sliced bread and we found her because we were searching for a better way. Thank you Cynthia for listening and carrying out what was put in your heart to do!
Thank you so much for your support. I am trying to be patient with myself to change my situation and get back on to the spiritual path I seemingly strayed from over time. This is my start right here right now, this website and Cynthia is amazing and i know with all this imspiration and support here i will be were I want to be. Thank you stay in touch.
Wow Cynthia this is so profound! I am actually home and sick! I have been, all weekend and ignored it until I lost my voice today. I caught this bug from my students and for the last two weeks I have been making them continuous cups of hot tea. They are all better and this morning it occurred to me to do the same for myself. It felt very strange, taking care of and nurturing myself but once I started doing that, my fever finally broke and I am getting my strength back. It really is important, no imperative that we love on ourselves deeply first so that we have enough strength to turn around and continue nurturing and loving others. It is very hard to do at first but once you get over the guilt, it starts to feel right and hopefully like me, will resolve to continue doing so for the rest of your life. Be patient it takes time before it actually feels right! Much love to all of you!
I feel I am perfectionistic with myself while having so much compassion for others. This article hit home. Thank you!
t osA week ago my dysfunctional mother, who had recently become homeless, came to stay with me, my partner, and our 10 y.o. son…it’s been hell. She is bipolar, manic, narcissistic, and has the early signs of dementia – and it is self-inflicted through decades of substance abuse, unhealthy eating, gambling addiction, smoking, watching soap operas, etc. She and my step-father had been married for 35 yrs., but divorced a couple of years ago. She has 3 healthy, functional adult children (I’m the oldest), and 6 wonderful grandchildren…but, she is so toxic, and such a bully that no one can deal with her. So, last night she left…and, although I know the saga is far from over, I am relieved that she isn’t here!! Any advice appreciated!
I need to stop thinking that I deserve less then everyone else.
I just on my frig and mirror, I love myself more. For some reason after Christmas my soul finally let me know that I wasn’t going to be “Leah” any longer. My health and most of all my soul comes first. For generations we are taught to take care of someone else first..thank you for the great article. It came just at the right time!!!!
I have been aware of this trait in myself this week, and am doing something about it now. After seeing to my family and their needs for the last month, Monday I’m taking my self to a week at a friend’s apartment on the beach for a week on my own while she goes on holiday. Guess what…it’s also a holiday for me. Good on you, Cynthia for posting and writing this.
I found myself in exactly the same situation as Leah I made a decision to be congruent with my beliefs and values equally to myself as I am towards others but it did take a few try’s to stop berating my body for its illness BUT it can be done and now I am less stressed and more proactive to my own personal needs … it works and I manage my illness along with the rest of my life so much easier … go with the flow peeps get the most and the best out of yourself whatever that maybe for you x
Very true. I understand. We want to be strong and get rid of our issues
I would do less of turning over the past, and more of loving myself.
I have neglected my health requirements for years now. I always have time for others and won’t give myself the self-love that it requires to make the doctor’s appointments and show up. This is the year.
How about: THIS IS THE DAY OR THE WEEK? Don’t think about it, just take the actions necessary and show up.