On Being Kind to Oneself

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Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

Mark Twain

Sometimes We’re Unkind

Be kind. Be compassionate. Be loving.

Most people associate these rules of engagement with how we interact with others more so than how we treat ourselves.

Often, when stress hits our lives, it’s when we need to be the most kind to ourselves, but ironically, it’s when we’re the hardest. We say things like, “You won’t rest/eat/play until you get this done.” “This is so like you to mess this up.” “Why are you so awkward?” “Why is this so hard for you?” “You are lazy.” “What’s wrong with you?” “You’re not good enough.” “You are a fraud.”

And yes, these are all things I have said to myself at some point.

Recently, I had the good fortune of experiencing a few disappointments that had me unknowingly beating myself up. I was being unkind to myself, which intensified the disappointments (because now instead of the situation disappointing me, I WAS the disappointment, and I was not going to let myself off the hook until I made it better!).

​It took some wise people, a supportive network, and time to remind me that I needed to be more compassionate to myself. Once I did that, a whole other world opened up for me.

Signs You’re Being a Jackass

Just like people can inflict verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse on others, we can also do the same to ourselves.

Here are some common examples of what we do when we are unkind to ourselves:

  • We ask and expect ourselves to do something we can’t
  • We criticize ourselves for things that are out of our control
  • We neglect and put aside our emotions and feelings
  • We do not acknowledge or honor our dignity, strength, courage, love, and beauty
  • We do things that withhold love from (or punish) ourselves
  • We do not give ourselves enough time
  • We do not ask for what we need
  • We put ourselves in unsafe environments (for our mind, body, soul)
  • We tell ourselves that we’re not “good enough”

I bet most of us wouldn’t imagine doing these things to another human being! But somehow we tolerate this jackass that does it to us.

Beginner’s Guide to Being More Kind (to Yourself)

So you want to be kinder to yourself but don’t know where to start? Here are a few considerations…

  1. Be nice to yourself…it’s hard to be happy with someone who is mean to you all the time. When confronted with a choice, ask yourself, “What would someone who loves herself/himself do in this situation?”
  2. Speak up for yourself…and ask for what you need.
  3. Feel your feelings…your emotion is the language of your soul. Allow yourself to feel how you feel. What is the message from your soul?
  4. Introduce your inner critic to your inner advocate…for every inner criticism you hear, your advocate will offer something wonderful that makes you unique.
  5. Forgive yourself…be gentle with yourself; you are always doing the best you can with what you have…and so is everyone else.
  6. Respect yourself…value yourself for who you are; others do not dictate your value. Go where you are celebrated, not tolerated.
  7. Trust yourself…feel your emotions, think your thoughts, form your own opinions, and make your own decisions.
  8. Compare yourself to yourself only…we each have our own unique sets of fingerprints for a reason. Express your own blueprint.
  9. Soothe yourself…tune into your body…what does it need to feel better right now? ​Be aware of the difference between medicating/soothing and numbing uncomfortable feelings that we need to fully experience (see #3).
  10. Find your moment of silence…breathe in silence for two to three minutes and find your center…this is the space from which your inner guidance will direct you.
  11. Allow the universe to happen…the universe is intelligent; the universe is wise; the universe is whole; the universe is intentional; the universe is light. You are an expression of the universe, so trust that you are all of those things.

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