Growing up, we were constantly told to be kind to others. To be polite, nice, and accepting.
I don’t know about you, but I was never thought much about being kind to myself.
There are so many different relationships you have in your life. Some are more complicated than others; some require some work while others feel effortless. Undoubtedly, one of the most important relationships in your life is one you have with yourself.
So, how do you nourish it?
I think that to some extent, we all have internalized a belief that being overly kind to yourself, is a little… indulgent or even selfish. We tend to be harsh and judgmental towards ourselves.
Once you find ways to be kinder to yourself, it’s almost as if you are suddenly reminded of common humanity. You remember that mistakes are just a part of life, so there’s no need to beat yourself up over them.
7 WAYS TO BE KINDER TO YOURSELF
Most of us have gone through some kind of struggles in the past. The beautiful thing about life is that we don’t have to hold on those ugly bits or things that bring us shame, things that make us feel uneasy or bring back pain. We get to grow, change, and evolve.
Holding to grudges is not only unhealthy, it can be damaging and it steals your joy away. It’s a burden. I’m talking both about forgiving yourself and forgiving others.
Is it always easy?
Hell no. Especially so if you’ve had an unhealthy relationship with your “self” for years and tend to put yourself down, all the time, even for silly things like feeling lazy sometimes and taking a break. Do not blame yourself for making mistakes, for missed opportunities, for not following through with things. Learn to forgive yourself, just as you’d forgive a friend.
2. GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
All of a sudden, I had these flashbacks to when I was counting down the days until I turn 18 so that I could move out and leave the unhealthily strict and controlling environment that was my home, and begin to live my life how I wanted to live it. I remembered how angry and frustrated I used to be as a young adult, how low I used to think of myself. I remembered how lonely I felt. Then more flashbacks to days when I was so depressed I wouldn’t get out of bed for days, times when I thought I was going crazy, nights when as I closed my eyes, I hoped I’d never have to open them again.
I’ll admit, some of those things are things and memories I pushed so far away I hoped to forget all about them. It’s sometimes difficult to realize and accept that angry, frustrated, confused and sad person was actually me. I now know though, that my past is a part of me and even though my life looks much different today than it did seven or eight years ago, it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be proud of overcoming the pain and struggles of the past. Giving yourself some recognition has NOTHING to do with you feeling sorry for yourself, or playing a victim. Mistakes, failures, and struggles are just a part of life. You don’t have to keep re-living and re-telling the stories of your past, but you should feel proud for living through them and coming out a stronger, wiser person.
So yes, in order to be kinder to yourself, you have to give yourself some recognition, give credit where credit is due. You do not have to feel guilty about the choices you make. Life is what you make it, and just because you chose to break the pattern, or decided to go a different path that someone you love, it doesn’t make you better than anyone else. At the same time, it also doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give yourself credit for building the life you want, for overcoming obstacles and going after things that bring you happiness. You don’t need to have someone else telling you that you did a good job- you can easily pat yourself on the back.
3. TAKE CARE
We talk Self-Care all the time, and as I always say, it’s more than just taking a bubble bath. It’s about looking after your mind, as well; it’s about not being afraid to say “no” to doing things you don’t like doing, it’s about knowing that it’s okay to be nice to yourself, to learn, grow and protect your energy. Also, learning to take care of yourself is also about knowing and realizing that it’s okay to NOT be okay– it’s okay to have a good cry once in a while or feel angry, to let yourself feel. You can find some ideas for practicing more Self-Care in this post.
4. BE MORE GENTLE + MINDFUL
Being kind to yourself, being gentle with yourself might seem a little indulgent to you.
Well, it is not, my friend.
Being gentle means that you will choose the words you speak to yourself more carefully. Guard your speech– especially when you talk to and about yourself. Being more mindful will allow you to observe, without judgment. As you practice taking that 3rd person perspective, you will be able to recognize those anxious thoughts and emotions, without the need to react or suffer from them. You’ll learn to detach yourself from those situations or emotions, therefore, they won’t have that control over you. You’ll be able to move on, and will no longer identify with that pain.
5. DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF
Let go of your limiting thoughts and beliefs. Are there any things you want to go after, but feel are unachievable? Do you ever tell yourself “I can’t” or “I will never be able to..“? Maybe you had someone else tell you these things in the past?
Let that shit go.
Your only limit is you. We live in times where you have countless resources at your fingertips and creating the life you dream of, has never been more achievable. But this takes work and faith in yourself- if living out your dream life was easy, everyone would be doing it. Don’t expect others to believe in your dreams and goals if you yourself do not believe in them. Remember that conversations you have with yourself, can either help you reach your goals and encourage you, or they can be your biggest obstacle. Let go of all limiting thoughts and beliefs that do not serve you and follow your bliss.
6. SEE A FRIEND
You know what all of these have in common? They’re all things that you’d expect a good friend to do for you.
Well, then why not see a friend in yourself? When you look at yourself, do so without judgment. Stop comparing yourself to others and try to treat yourself the same way you’d treat someone close. Work on the relationship you have with yourself, just like you work on other relationship in your life.
7. LET GO OF THE NEED TO BE PERFECT
This need of having to be perfect at all times can feel like a trap. At some point, you stop acknowledging your accomplishments because there’s always that voice in your head that says “well… you could’ve done a better job“. It’s just like having that all-or-nothing attitude, where unless you get 100%, you get nothing. It’s you, spending more time worrying about failing than you do focusing on what it is you’re trying to accomplish.
Things will not always go as planned and the sooner you accept that, the less time you’ll spend wasting trying to get things to be “perfect.”
So, what does being kinder to yourself mean, really?
It means not leaving yourself off the list of people you care and look out for. It’s about not allowing any of your negative emotions to brew. By being more kind to yourself you will discover emotional freedom, you will recognize that your needs and feelings matter.
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