I have to tell you about our bunny.
It’s not so much “ours” as “wild and living in our backyard” but whatever. We all belong to each other and today that includes rabbits.
We are not pet people, so this is the closest our kids have ever come to having an in-house furry friend.
We can’t pet it—for so very many reasons—but Audrey and Sadie have been sneaking it a steady supply of vegetables out of the crisper drawer, so I think it will stick around awhile.
They’ve named it (her?) Ivy.
If you get up early enough in the morning, you are likely to see Ivy nibbling her bounty of baby carrots and romaine leaves. She’s also partial to cucumber slices. You don’t even have to peel them first, which makes her easier to feed than one-third of the people in this family.
While she eats my groceries, the kids whisper-coo at her. They don’t want to scare her off, but they say hello and tell her what a good rabbit she is.
And she is. She’s a very good rabbit. Rabbits hop. They hide. They nibble through every single plant they find, and they poop on all the things. She is excellent at being a rabbit.
All this has me thinking about the ways we talk to ourselves–
because I don’t think we sound like the kids talking to that bunny.
You are just as fabulous at being human as Ivy is at being a rabbit and you smell a whole lot better—but how often do you tell yourself that?
Ivy doesn’t actually need the reminder. I think the rest of us kind of do.
I think we forget. We don’t see ourselves as charming rabbits, with soft bellies and jauntily angled ears, so we don’t tell ourselves that that’s who we are. Instead we see the matted fur on one side, the mud under the nails, the lopsided hopping and we say: ugh.
We don’t feel all that encouraged about ourselves, so we don’t say encouraging things to ourselves.
We don’t remind ourselves of what is true.
(What’s most true about you is not that you’re broken or alone or that you make mistakes. What’s most true is that you are worthy of connection, you’re lovable and loved, and you are being made new every day.) I have a hard time remembering this.
What I’m thinking is, maybe we need to stop waiting to feel the true things and just start reminding ourselves of them anyway. It’s hard to be a person, and you’ve been doing it all day long.
How about a high five every once in a while?
It might sound like a small thing, but it matters. Knowing you are loved and valued wakes you up and makes you brave. The world needs you fully alive and making choices from a place of worth. You start by giving yourself more compassion, and it ends up spilling out into the world around you. It matters.
I think we might as well try.
We can try thinking true, love-filled messages and see what happens next. You can tell yourself, you are loved, and you’ve got this, and even I’m proud of you. Best-case scenario, the words start to come more naturally, you believe them more, and your world becomes a more loving place. You start to feel it. Worst-case scenario, you will just think more love-fueled thoughts. There’s no down side to this experiment, really.
While we’re practicing telling ourselves, we can tell each other, too. That’s easier, isn’t it? It’s easier to see that our friends or our partners or our children are beautiful and beloved human beings. And they are! But they still might need reminding.
And if someone is reminding YOU: listen well. Don’t shrug it off, even if it’s uncomfortable to hear and you find yourself thinking: What prompted this? Why are you saying these things? Am I dying and no one told me? Is there spinach in my teeth and you’re just trying to distract yourself? WHAT IS GOING ON?
It could be awkward, is what I am saying, but let us give it our best shot ANYWAY.
Let the kind voices of loved ones become your inner soundtrack if you need to, as you rewrite your own. And let your words fill their hearts, too. Maybe your words can give them a starting place when they’re deciding what to tell themselves.
You matter. You are loved, you are worthy of connection, and I am proud of you. Now practice telling yourself, too.