On my flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles, I sat next to a stranger who engaged me in conversation and spent the next three hours telling me her life story. The woman told me that she felt guilty about not doing better job of raising her sons when they were growing up. She was unhappy, felt inadequate, full of remorse and blaming herself as to how her sons turned out. The woman even felt responsible for her son's marriage and how her grandchildren were being raised. Sadly, she was feeling very depressed and was definitely not very compassionate to herself.
After I had listened to her story, we talked about being kind to herself first. I shared with her that the purpose of life is to be happy. Without being loving and compassionate towards ourselves, we would not be able to feel loving-kindness and compassionate to others. By the time we parted company, she was smiling and felt that she has done a good job with her sons and she will give chance for her sons to raise their own children. Here is the chapter from the Pocket Pema Chodron which I shared with her.
"We start with ourselves.
In cultivating loving-kindness, we train first to be honest, loving and compassionate toward ourselves. Rather than nurturing self-denigration, we begin to cultivate a clear-seeing kindness. Sometimes we feel good and strong. Sometimes we feel inadequate and weak. But loving-kindness is unconditional. No matter how we feel, we can aspire to be happy. We can learn to act and think in ways that sow seeds of our future well-being, gradually becoming more aware of what causes happiness as well as what causes distress. Without loving-kindness for ourselves it is difficult, if not impossible to genuinely feel it for others."
Aloha -- Cathi