Kindness is one of the most powerful sources on this planet, not to be confused with niceness. Niceness is a slightly shallower pleasance that we bestow upon our fellow humans. Kindness, however, goes much deeper than that.
Showing people love, treating them with respect, offering genuine forgiveness, thinking about what it is like in their shoes, staying open-minded to differences, and always choosing words with care. It’s great and wonderful, and yet time and time again, we forget to show kindness to one person in particular:
For so many of us, we become our own worst critics. If we would talk to others the way we negatively talk to ourselves, we would be labeled the biggest jerks around. If we undervalued and ignored other people’s health, bodies, and well-being in the same we undervalue and ignore our own care, we would be inconsiderate, at best, and downright terrible, more realistically.
Why is it sometimes so hard to be kind to ourselves? Why do you find it so difficult to treat yourself with kindness?
Maybe you have been handed shame and guilt by others so many times, all you see is shame and guilt when you look at yourself in the mirror. Maybe because you so intimately know each flaw you have and each mistake you’ve made, you are reminded of them every day. Or maybe you are so trapped by perfectionism and insurmountable expectations, you rarely feel like you will be able to amount to anything of worth.
But think about this: If you had a relationship with somebody who constantly berated you, spoke down to you, told you that you weren’t good enough, kept bringing up your faults, refused to care for your needs, refused to give you rest, and heaped upon you one expectation after the other – you would (hopefully) end that relationship quickly.
Yet, we do this to ourselves everyday. We think, “Sure, I can wrap my brain around showing kindness to others.” And still, showing kindness to ourselves feels like the hardest thing to do. Like any other thing in this life, to get better, you have to practice. Here are a few ways to show yourself kindness today.
- Think about one thing that brings you pleasure and do it without shame and guilt.
This could include, but is certainly not limited to:
- Lighting a candle and sitting down with your favorite gossip magazine.
- Getting dessert with a friend after work.
- Splurging on a pedicure.
- Leaving work 10 minutes early to beat traffic.
- Go to bed earlier and love every minute.
- Doing the cardio you love for as long as you like, that runner’s high.
- Replace a negative thought with a positive thought.
Sometimes in the pursuit of ridding our brains of negative self-talk, we end up adding even more negative self talk when we berate ourselves for every unkind thought that pops into our minds. It is much more effective to replace the negative thought with a positive one than it is to beat yourself up about it.
You think: “I can never do anything right.”
Then you replace it with: “I do so many things right, yet I am allowed to make mistakes sometimes because I’m human.”
- Stop saying “no” when you want to say “yes” and vice versa.
We live in a confused society where people say “yes” to all sorts of things they really do not want to do, yet deprive themselves by saying “no” to what they actually want.
- Say “no” to the baby shower you do not want to go to; say “yes” to the mimosa brunch with a girlfriend that you do want to go to.
- Say “no” to being guilted into contributing to the office fundraiser you do not feel passionate about; say “yes” spending that extra money on your hobby.
- Speak your truth.
In deep fear of hurting someone else or being judged, we often silence ourselves. By doing this, you tell yourself that your voice or opinion does not matter. Find a way to speak your truth kindly, but as firmly as you need to. Stand up for yourself the way you would stand up for somebody else.
Show yourself some kindness today. Then again tomorrow. Make it a pattern. Because at the end of the day, you are the only person you are guaranteed to have in your life. You might as well make it a healthy relationship!