Treat Yourself with Kindness
Write down the last five (kind) things you did for yourself this past week. Now, bear with me but really put it down on paper. Do you have five? Actually, five times you showed yourself kindness and acted in a manner that was considerate and empathetic towards yourself. I was quite surprised with my list and honestly most people won’t have a completed list or will have had to really think hard about it, which brings forth the existential question of why? I mean shouldn’t it be easy to do nice things for ourselves and be forgiving and caring to ourselves?
Now I’m not saying we should all become really self-centered and focus only on our own person, it’s important to have empathy for others and extend kindness to those around us but that’s just it, we are supposed to extend kindness, which by definition entails that we are meant to give ourselves kindness first. So, why aren’t we kinder with ourselves? We are our most valuable resource after all. All those dreams and ideas of changing the world for the better start with us.
So, treat yourself! And I don’t mean retail therapy where we splurge to feel better and don’t actually process. I mean, learn to treat yourself with kindness—the outcome of having learned self-compassion. We can all benefit from being kinder to ourselves; when we are happy and fulfilled, we become more well-rounded individuals. We often are the hardest on ourselves when really the best thing we can do is to treat our mind, body, and soul with what it needs.
Society encourages us, women especially, to keep ourselves contained. There is this unsaid expectation that makes us feel as if we should put others’ needs first, which contributes to keeping ourselves “small”. We shouldn’t belittle our own voice for the fear of saying the wrong thing, being judge, or affecting a relation we might not even want or be happy in. Nonetheless, we can without a doubt be kind to ourselves and still care for others and be considerate of how our choices and actions affect those around us. What would life look like if we stopped trying to please others and instead treated ourselves with more kindness?
In some past articles, I talked about the idea of showing up as our full and true self, more specifically, being brave enough to do so. Well, to do that we must also un-tame ourselves from the expectations of society, family, marriage, and whatever other social constructs we find ourselves trying to fit into. Some people have never felt tamed/small in their lives, lucky them! But many others end up being tamed by situations, people, expectation and most often, themselves. We are the barriers of our freedom; we dictate the freedom we feel we should have. Most often, tameness is a feeling and one that is self-exacerbated by bad habits and through systems that uphold power dynamics and inequalities. Likewise, we only desire to over-consume and succumb to unattainable trends to make the inside of our metaphorical cage prettier, but it’s the excess that also hides the unlocked door to freedom. The kinder you are to yourself, in all senses of the word, the lighter you’ll feel.
You know, we only have one life so we really should make the most of it. There is essentially no later; if you miss out on your chance to live to your fullest potential, to be happy, to be unapologetically yourself, then you miss the chance to live. Don’t get me wrong, you can take time to figure things out but if something’s calling you to be happier, to dance, to write, to sing or do something you’re curious or passionate about, don’t you dare worry about if you’re good enough. YOU ARE! And the best gift you can give the world, is your full self. It’s better to sing off key but to do so with contagious joy then to diminish your light, which long-term, would be an unkindness to yourself. Don’t hold back!
We can do hard things! If you’re going through a tough time or having trouble finding your footing, don’t give yourself a hard time. Doing so creates negative energy that you’re in turn sending into the world and to yourself. It won’t help you grow. Rather, rest assured that struggle isn’t a bad thing, it strengthens our resilience by creating bravery, it grows our empathy by creating kindness and wisdom. The outcome—the moments after a period of struggle—depend on how we face that struggle, if it’s done with compassion and positivity or in darkness with eyes closed to the potential opportunities. Afterall, when we feel like we hit rock bottom it’s simply announcing a new beginning so there is potential for more. Something more that hopefully pushes us out of our comfort zone and onto newness—sorta like a rebirth where another layer of ourselves is revealed.
You want to move away from having a surface life; not to be confined to one point of view as we are happiest when we feel whole and like we can express ourselves fully. We are all different and experience privilege and discrimination based on what’s apparent, which often makes it hard to be multidimensional. In other words, to truly express who we are beyond what others can see and judge us for. But thankfully, you are more than what you are to one person!
We want to build ourselves up and that needs positive energy. Last month I brought on the debate between taking decisions following our heart versus our head and came to the conclusion that it’s best to arrive at a point where there is harmony between both, which I coined as “instinct”. Now, if we take that a step further, that same instinct that allows us to be at peace with our decisions is also a reflection of ourselves (of our knowing) and how much or how little we accept of ourselves. Trusting our instinct is a huge kindness as it’s acknowledging that we are comfortable with the knowledge we have, and we are trusting ourselves to go forth with that.
Personally, part of treating myself with kindness has to do with making time for myself. I take moments to reflect on the aspects of my life I’m grateful for. To treat myself to an hour of me time by taking a yoga class, walks with my pups, swimming, and self-care. Those are all small kindness to myself that end up making such a big difference in my overall wellbeing. Really, being kind to yourself starts will small actions like walking a bit more each day, exercising, and feeding your body with nutritious foods to maintain healthy living. Everything you do for YOU that contributes to your longevity, happiness, mood, and ability to do what you want is a kindness.
It’s like with freedom, we all want it and live more fulfilled when we have it, but we also have to let ourselves enjoy it and value it. It can be too easy to get into the habit of accepting what we are presented with instead of questioning and listening to our gut feeling, or instinct or knowing, which represents our truth. Happiness comes when we live for ourselves.
It shouldn’t take us long to realize that change really starts from within. To be the best and wholesomeness version of ourselves we need to prioritize being kind to our body, mind, and soul, whatever that looks like. We are all different and kindness can take many forms, as long as we remember to be supportive and kind of our growth, to let our emotions shine through and most importantly, to be receptive to that kindness.
You’ll see, it’s a rippling effect, starting today to show yourself more kindness will have an impact on all spheres of your life and how you interact with the world.
You do matter, try to remember that. So, live life for you and break free from…take a moment and finish the sentence for yourself.