Photo by Nattu
By Juliet du Preez
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness” – Seneca
A couple of days ago someone said to me: “Be kind to yourself!” Ever since hearing these words they have been stuck in my head. I have always understood the importance of kindness, but I have always focused on kindness to others. I had never thought about kindness towards myself. It really got me thinking.
I started with how it feels to have someone be kind to you. I know that feeling. It’s warm and cozy and bonding. But I am not the one to evoke that type of feeling in myself. I thought about how it feels to be kind – the type of emotions that surge within you when you are considering another person; care and gentleness. I do not often feel these types of emotions when dealing with myself. This leads me to question whether I am ever pointedly kind to myself and how my life would be different if I specifically paid myself some kind attention.
I’ve been thinking about how you can be kind to yourself and benefits of doing so. Here are some of my suggestions.
It is important to be patient with yourself if you are battling with a task. The other night I was in a yoga class, it was hot and sticky, and I was repeatedly falling out of a balance because my hands kept on slipping. I was highly irritated with myself. My teacher reminded me that some days I would be better at it than others, some days my practice would be stronger than on others and that it was not a competition with myself.
Now I think: “What if I had said that to myself and not relied on the teacher to divert me from unkind behavior towards myself?” Impatience has a tendency to lead towards decreased self-esteem and a general bad mood. It is also something we tend to brood over; getting stuck in the negative past instead of valuing the present moment. Stay patient and you will be sure to have more peace in your life.
Watch Your Words
Everybody has self-talk or self-chatter. Sometimes it is positive and sometimes it is negative (or very negative). Do you say things to yourself such as: “you idiot” or “how could you do that?” Do you say things to yourself that you wouldn’t say to others? Is what you say to yourself kind?
I know that if someone said directly to me some of the reprimands that I give myself, I would be extremely hurt. So why is it all right for me to make such comments to myself? For many reasons it is good to try to be aware of negative self-talk and to turn it around. With awareness one can take action. In the case of “kindness to self”, I think it is important to change ugly to words and tones into sentences that you would feel comfortable using with someone else. Nice words, kind words, make you feel good or better or even accepted.
When things are tough or you are battling with something, encouragement is a wonderful means of giving you a boost. But, does encouragement have to come from someone externally? I think we should always have enough positive belief in ourselves to carry us through. Belief is empowering.
Forgiveness is often not easy. One of the steps in attaining forgiveness is self-forgiveness. So, if we don’t get that right, we are “doomed” in attempts to forgive others. Forgiving yourself is kind. Forgiving others is kind.
Photo by Pokpok313
Acts of kindness involve giving – whether it is material or time or energy of some sorts. Are you generous towards yourself? I think it is important to treat yourself with things you enjoy (even if it is simply a bath in beautiful oils) and gifts.
Everyone needs to take time and energy out for themselves, be it reading a book or attending a class or coffee with a friend. I need to do more of this.
You give to others in order to rejuvenate them. You are just as worthy of and in need of rejuvenation. Rejuvenation is key to success. Besides, you can’t give to others, if you don’t have enough for yourself first.
Kindness also involves listening. Do you listen to yourself? Do you hear what your body, heart and soul are saying?
It’s important to rest if you are tired, to take a break if you have been mentally overworking, to make changes if you are dissatisfied, to seek help if you need it etc. It’s another key to success and happiness. Paying attention to yourself is part of a positive life journey.
With kindness, one creates a space for and allows another person to be themselves and experience their feelings. Allowing yourself to feel painful or negative emotions helps with moving forward – so long as you deal with them. If you keep on covering them up, they continue to draw you downwards and backwards. You can be empathetic and compassionate with yourself without wallowing in self-pity. I don’t think that I am most efficient with dealing with my emotions. There is a bit of fight going on there. That energy is better spent elsewhere.
Kindness can involve the giving of advice or suggestions. So it’s a matter of taking things into your own hands, learning what you need and the applying it (in a kind manner!). A step towards growth.
If you think about it, is everyone not worthy of kindness? So then too are you.
I’ve decided that I need to cultivate kindness towards myself. I need it in order to extend my acts of kindness, to raise my energy levels and I think it will bring more contentment into my life.
What about you? Do you need to treat yourself better? Or, do you have any tips for how to be kind to yourself? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.