How does being kind to yourself help you?
Being kind to yourself can feel at odds with your usual thinking. It perhaps doesn’t come naturally, would you agree?
Yet being kind to yourself, also known as self-compassion, is one of the most important qualities we can nurture as human beings. And of course, kindness towards others and the world.
Each of us had our own upbringing where culture, family, schooling and unique experiences influenced us. Were you ever taught to be kind to yourself? To others, yes, but not to yourself, I suspect. The language of self-kindness and self-love tends not to be in our vocabulary.
This inner critic can encourage you with constructive thoughts as you pick yourself up after failure. But it’s more likely to be a hostile inner critic.
Day after day, this hostile inner critic drags you down with unkind language, sharpness and judgment.
Pay attention to your inner voice.
Without mindful awareness the same old harsh voice berates you. With mindful awareness you are in charge of shifting the language you speak to yourself.
Research findings state that:
Those who measure high in self-compassion treat themselves with kindness and concern when experiencing negative events. ~ Allen & Leary, 2010
How do you start with being kind to yourself?
Whatever you’re going through in life right now, ask yourself, what do I need?
Before anything else, notice what it feels like to say, ‘I need to be kind to myself.’
Use encouraging language. This can lead to a sense that you value and respect yourself more.
Kindness and self-compassion add more balance. From this balanced foundation, you then move forward with a greater sense of confidence.
That then spills out towards others, your work, the Earth.
What does being kind to yourself feel like?
If you’re unsure how to be kind to yourself, think about how you would speak with someone you really love, like a partner, a child, a good friend or much-loved pet. If they needed some support, you’d be kind and compassionate to them.
Kindness and tenderness would naturally flow from you in the form of words, a hug, encouraging ideas, giving your time as a listener and in support. They feel loved and better able to deal with whatever challenge or difficult feeling they’re facing.
When you’re kind to yourself, in your thoughts and inner words, you will feel more motivated and positive. It’s first and foremost, a feeling within you.
You don’t sweep aside the challenges in your life and pretend they don’t exist. You are checking in to a more mature, aware and conscious state of being.
Feel the love, self-compassion, tenderness and kindness. Encourage yourself with this gently and lovingly. And this gives you the tools to pick yourself back up, whatever is happening in your life.
The repercussions of being kind to yourself can be astounding
If we all learnt to be kind to ourselves, then included it in all aspects of our life with others, what a totally transformed world this would be. Kindness and thoughtfulness would underpin every choice made – personally and politically. It would lead to a world of peace and kindness.
Start with you and see how quickly kindness grows!
Interesting post from Positive Psychology: 15 Most Interesting Self-Compassion Research Findings
Helpful post from Mindful.org: How to Choose Self-Compassion
A collection of blog posts from Place of Serenity on Kindness, Love & Peace
Yvette Jane – Mindfulness & Meditation