How can we bring more self-compassion to ourselves in menopause?
I decided to write this week after a sad conversation on Twitter where a very bitter woman who challenged me to say what would help her menopause. When I mentioned compassion her response was ‘Who has time for that BS’. But science and the experience of my work over the last 8 years and many otherwise would say, EVERYONE.
I would love to be able to say that my journey into compassion was deliberate and planned, but that would be a lie. Instead, I fell, or rather, I was pushed in that direction. Compassion has allowed me to be with the roots of my menopausal anxiety. It impacted my perimenopause and unfolded into a warm and connected process where I was able to heal by coming into a new relationship with myself. And as I later through connection and deeper relationships with others.
Cultivating compassion over time has brought me an intuitive, immediate and relational way of living. And finding a place where all of me is welcome. That my perimenopausal symptoms could be given a compassionate, courageous spacious presence.
I have been greatly inspired by the work of Catherine Myss and here are some thoughts inspired by her work:
We can choose not to pass on our perimenopause drama. It's not about denying the difficulties but learning from them and choosing to share the wisdom that those experiences can give rather than just the negative.
We give ourselves permission to take calculated risks. As Myss says, "Never look backwards for guidance." We weaken ourselves by continually looking backwards, and instead, we can embrace the "newness" of possibility. Don't ask for everything to be easy. Stop searching for a quick fix. Refuse to slide into regretful living.
Choose positive language. If your words are toxic, your vocabulary is fundamentally hostile toward everyone and, most importantly, yourself. It perpetuates the internal dialogue that perimenopause is hard all the time.
Choose to get up and bless the day. And don't base your gratitude for your life on what you have or how you feel. The fantastic thing about gratitude is that it doesn't have to be about the big stuff for you to feel the benefits. Gratitude can shape the life around you with grace and beauty. Even when perimenopause symptoms are hard to bear, being present with great gratitude supports us.
When self-compassion is present, you know your own preferences and desires. It's not that you're always putting yourself first; you also know your limits and capacities and when you can go that extra mile. Self-compassion Self-compassion helps you stay in your own core and act from a place of strength and stability.
I have attached here a short daily self-compassion practice that you may wish to try. Do let me know how it feels for you.
News, views, podcasts and more….
I came across this interesting piece of research for Connected Women looked at forming friendships in your 50s and issues around loneliness and lack of connection. As the debate about dementia and Alzheimer’s grows it is vital for us to remember the role that social connection plays in our health and well-being as age.
This struck a core with me Incompetent’, ‘geriatric’, ‘atrophied’… Ageing as a woman means being defined by the bluntest of descriptors. This great article from NZ kinda sums it up well
The latest episode from the Medical Minefeld Podcast is an important conversation about whether menopause can cause women to take their own lives and features Rachel Lankaster and Dr Jen Gunter
This is such a sensitive topic and menopause is a very sensitive time in a woman’s life. It’s when we need to take extra good care of ourselves. Socioeconomic difficulties, past and current trauma, mental disorders as well as all the negative narratives about menopause itself and female ageing are all contributing factors.
This is an area that is rightly highly triggering and painful. There are many of us who have felt on the edge or even know another woman who has ended their life in midlife. The answer to whether menopause is the reason is clear as muddy water.
The recent article quoting strong evidence from Professor Myra Hunter and the Samaritans came out this week along with the podcast episode and these go some to a calm and considered discussion that looks at what the stats actually tell us, what else might be going on for women around this time, and treatment options. We try to go beyond the clickbait fearmongering headlines to bring more clarity to this very important topic. I also recommend this balanced conversation with Professor Kulkani and Professor Baber on mental health and menopause which was featured on the Jean Hailes website in Australia
If you are affected by suicidal thoughts then it is critical to reach out to your healthcare professional team and seek help. You can also talk to organisations like the Samaritans in the UK, the National Suicide Prevention helpline in the US and Beyond Blue in Australia.
I think this is a good place to sign off for this week. Go well!