Being kind to yourself

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Just as important as it is to be kind to others, it’s equally important to show kindness towards yourself. Being kind to yourself promotes happiness and confidence; and how you treat yourself sets the tone for how others will treat you.

When we’re kind to others, we pay them attention, we offer warmth, affection, generosity, without judging whether the circumstances necessarily merit it.  Kindness isn’t a reward for good behaviour, or because we want something.  We are considerate and we think of actions that the other person will appreciate; and we give without expecting anything back. We’re open to celebrating their success without feeling that it takes something away from us.

Being kind to yourself means not judging yourself harshly for not being perfect.  It also means not holding yourself to impossibly high standards.  And it means stopping comparing yourself to others and beating yourself up for making a mistake, or for not being good enough at something.  Instead of giving ourselves a hard time when things don’t work out the way we planned, we need to start treating ourselves with some kindness and compassion.  When we’re kind to ourselves it’s easier to be truly kind to others, and to accept others’ kindness and love.  It’s not much fun living with someone who is always mean to you – and that’s what many of us do to ourselves.  Being kind to ourselves, and to others, is a recipe for happiness.

It sounds like a relatively simple concept, yet for many of us, being kind to ourselves—especially when we experience failure—can seem almost impossible.  We’re so hard on ourselves, and we’re often our own worst critic.  It seems that we can easily forgive our friends and family, but we have a much harder time taking that forgiveness within.  Being kind to ourselves is certainly different to the way that many of us have been brought up.  We often tell ourselves that we don’t deserve kindness, that we are lazy and we need to push ourselves harder.  As a society, we have a tendency to view kindness as a weakness, but making the active decision to be kind to ourselves, engage in self-care and show ourselves the compassion that we would to a friend or family member can be incredibly powerful and give a more positive mindset, help to ease stress and anxiety and boost our self-esteem.

Here are a couple of ways of getting on the self-compassion ladder:

  • Start by acknowledging the positive.  We’re all imperfect flawed human beings – that’s what makes us human! Rather than focusing on all the work we haven’t done yet, we can take a more positive shift in our mindset by being kind, allowing ourselves to notice our own efforts, and celebrating small successes. This small act of kindness can help to foster a more positive mindset and let go of feeling as if you failed.
  • Practice self-forgiveness.  When you get caught up in self-blame, pause and think about how you would react to the same situation with a friend. Often, we need the same kind of forgiveness. At the end of the day, we’re doing the best that we can. When we know better, we can do better. In the meantime, forgiveness is key.
  • Rest and recharge.  We live in a society that worships productivity. While that may be necessary sometimes, it also creates the assumption that a lack of productivity makes you worth less as a person and makes it very difficult to find time to be kind to yourself. We need to get back to the flow of nature, which shows us that while much may not be going on, life is still thriving and growing. Likewise, so are we.  We don’t always need to work, move, create, and do. More often than not, we need rest. Sometimes we need to just be, and we need to know that this is more than OK.