‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind’
To yourself. To others
Be kind to yourself
Have you noticed that you don’t often apply this idea to yourself? To others, yes, but to be kind to yourself?
This might even seem a strange concept – you are getting through your days with a determined doggedness. Full steam ahead.
‘If I’m kind to myself I’ll turn too soft and gooey.’
‘Kindness is weakness’
And if I show kindness to others at work:
‘I’ll become a pushover.’
‘I certainly won’t become a success.’
‘Others will take advantage of me.’
Be kind – you are vulnerable
As a mindfulness & meditation coach, I work with so many people who are struggling with stress, anxiety or down-heartedness. For many, work circumstances contribute greatly to this.
More and more of you experience working conditions that don’t allow you the time to be anything other than robotic. And yet you’re not a robot.
I see that chink of vulnerability beneath your armour of toughness. That’s not failure – that’s the bit that makes me want to know you better. I can recognise you as a human being.
You may have done amazing things in your life and do exceptionally good work. Yet I can’t connect with you until the outside barriers have dropped – even for a second. Then I remember and recognise that we share the same ‘human-ness.’
So are you willing to recognise that too?
The more you push on and attempt to stay strong, the more brittle and then susceptible to ill-health you become. It’s not sustainable to keep over-working, remaining tough for others and not being able to soften and surrender to your real needs.
Be kind – you’ve been defending yourself
They share their experiences of being vulnerable and I can identify with that. Perhaps we Brits have this ‘stiff upper lip’ thing! It’s like a wall we carry exclusively around with us. It’s a defense mechanism against fear and failure. And this may have saved us in the past.
But it’s now time to soften into these feelings of exhaustion, fear, pretence, harshness, toughness and isolation.
Because we’re not alone in this. We all experience these kinds of emotions and experiences.
What are some of the strongest emotions you’ve been experiencing lately? It’s possible you don’t want to admit to such things! Yet these emotions are informing you that you need to get your life more balanced. That something is not quite right.
Who could you share your emotions with? Or are you willing to learn to meditate and be with them in a more helpful capacity? Can you see that when you acknowledge the difficult emotions, it opens up possibilities?
Be kind to yourself first
This is an act of courage, not weakness.
What is it you need? How can you help yourself?
Not with more layers of armour and a pretence that everything is OK. Listen in to what you need most. This is known as insight meditation. Or you might prefer quiet contemplation.
When you address yourself with kindness and an open heart, you are better able to do your work successfully. With more enthusiasm and energy. Because when you pick yourself up with tenderness and self-care, you will feel stronger.
And it may even lead you to be kinder and more generous towards others. Perhaps a little less judging. You might learn to be more congruent about who you are and how you are behaving.
Maybe it’s time to make changes for yourself that will have real and lasting effects on others too.
We might all collude in a work atmosphere of unrealistic deadlines and bullying. We might pretend that we simply have to ‘toughen up’.
Yet when you take responsibility for yourself the consequences may be far-reaching and beneficial to many others too.
If our ancestors weren’t kind to one-another, they wouldn’t have survived as they did. Kindness is an essential quality in our lives. It’s become much maligned and overlooked.
I value kindness – do you?
I value kindness above many other qualities in a person. Kindness, courtesy, thoughtfulness, enthusiasm and a sense of humour.
Don’t be afraid to practice kindness – it’s an amazing human quality! See *below about how it kicks in during times of disaster.
Go ahead – be kind to others and be kind to yourself!
The amazing power of kindness
I found a few interesting references to kindness here:
I love this website with some fascinating experiments they put into practice like number 2 and number 11.
Kindness, empathy and the vagus nerve: includes an excellent little video.
Very interesting read on married couples and how ‘successful’ marriages are sustained – the secret? Kindness is part of it.
‘Our brains are designed so that our stress systems can be soothed by social support: in response to the calming words or gentle touch of loved ones, for example, the bonding hormone oxytocin tends to lower levels of stress hormones. We learn this from infancy from our parents or caregivers; as we grow, our stress systems remain intricately linked to the presence of others who can provide comfort and relief from anxiety. Hundreds of studies now show that strong social support extends life and improves health in multiple ways, acting primarily through its effects on the stress system.
And during disasters, our social networks largely determine our fates: the more connections we have and the stronger our bonds are to each other, the more likely we are to survive, not just physically but emotionally.’
‘Human beings are fundamentally social animals and it is the protective nature of our social relationships that has allowed our species to thrive.’
Acute stress, like war, can lead to strong bonding. Whereas chronic stress – what you face day after day, simply wears you down.
And other blog posts you might like to read:
Yvette Jane – Mindfulness & Meditation
Make time to connect with yourself through Place of Serenity