How to Be Kind to Yourself

How to Be Kind to Yourself

“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.

Be Patient

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.

Encourage Yourself

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.

Forgive

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.

Give

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.

Listen

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.

Allow

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.

Give Advice

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.

Photo by Nattu

Juliet du Preez

Juliet du Preez is devoted to assisting people with personal development, inspiration and promoting fun. She is involved in developing related software and is the author of the Life Made Great Blog.

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36 Comments

  1. This is a beautiful post and I very much enjoyed reading it. These few things that are stated here are the best way for you to uplift yourself and make your day and thus your life better. Thanks

    Reply
  2. For me this has been one of life’s biggest lessons. I think of it as self-honoring. I’m getting better. I think being one of ten children and working on the family farm didn’t allow time for nurturing myself.

    Now I have nothing better to do and still struggle with it! Hey but small steps right?

    Reply
  3. Great thoughts and suggestions. Yes we must be kind to ourselves, for it is through the love of ourselves that our love will radiate to others.
    The biggest offender is that people talk down to themselves when they make a mistake. I often catch people doing this and ask them not to say mean things to my friend, it takes them a minute and then they get it.

    Reply
  4. Good topic!
    Here is the true story i experienced today…
    I was treated unfair. While i could go off and easily prove it is wrong I have chosen to forgive the other guy and move on. I know that people who knows me well won’t believe it anyway (they have not btw). I decided to be kind to myself by not wasting my precious time on nonsense – i decided to forgive and move on. What would you do?

    Reply
  5. Great ideas, I will try to apply those. I have found that it’s easier to be nice to others, but very hard to be nice to ourselves. I think being a Virgo in nature, I am my worst critic and I need to be nicer to myself.

    Thanks

    Reply
  6. Thank you so much for writing this blog post. I struggle SO MUCH!!! with my negative self-chatter!

    Reply
  7. Hi Juliet,

    We should always try not to beat ourselves up due to mistakes that we had made. We need to know how to forgive ourselves and learn from our mistakes.

    Cheers
    Vincent
    Personal Development Blogger

    Reply
  8. Hi Juliet,

    Great post! Many people are really hard on themselves, and I used to be too. For example if I forgot to journal for one day, I would berate myself. Now I just forgive myself for not being perfect, and allow myself to journal only when I feel like it, with no pressure or judgment.

    Thanks for all the great advice here.

    Reply
  9. Hi, Juliet kindly pointed me to your site.

    A few days ago, my brother spoke unkindly to me and it really hurts. I still could not take the hurt off me because of the way it was spat at my face. I try to forgive him for he is a bachelor at 45 years old and has no idea about relationships in a marriage. How can find in myself to forgive someone so close? And go back to loving myself.

    Thank you kindly.

    Reply
  10. Actually, we treat others as we treat ourselves. If you treat others differently from how you treat yourself, then there’s some kind of fear or manipulation going on — attempts to have others like you or accept you, perhaps. But a person who is not generous to oneself cannot truly be generous to others, and one who does not trust oneself has a hard time truly trusting others.

    Always begin with self.

    ari

    Reply
  11. Great post! I believe being kind to ourself have a lot to do with loving our self. In my own jounrey I realized the reason being kind to myself wasn’t easy was because I didn’t love myself as much as say ‘I would love a boy friend.”
    It wasn’t until I learn to love myself then being kind to myself become normal things to do.

    A wonderful post, beautifully written.

    Thank you,
    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

    Reply
  12. Very beautifully written!! We often forget to be kind to ourselves. The things we say to others are a lot less harsher often enough. Love the tips here!

    Reply
  13. Vital message, Juliet!! Thank you!
    How can we ever be truly kind to another if we are unable to be kind to ourself? All things begin ‘at home.’
    blessings to you and all you hold dear,
    CG

    Reply
  14. Hi Coryelle
    Thank you. Yes, we need to make every day special

    Hi Tess
    One of 10 children! I’m glad that you are now working on self-nourishment.

    Hi Mark
    That is a wonderful way of helping your friends help themselves. I’ll remember that. I have a friend who is always saying she is stupid.

    Hi Alik
    I think that to truly forgive is commendable. I’m not sure of your situation, but I would like to say that I too would take that approach. I find it’s better to try and avoid negative spirals. Besides which, if those close to you choose not to believe and support you, then do you really want them to be “those close to you”?

    Hi Jennifer
    I’m glad that I could provide some tips.

    Hi YS
    It is an absolute pleasure. Sometimes we need all the help we can get against negative self-talk.

    Hi Vincent
    You raise a good point about learning from our mistakes. That too leads to success and happiness.

    Juliet

    Reply
  15. Hi Daphne
    That is the real trick – reduce pressure on oneself and self-judgement. It makes life so much easier and more pleasant – fun ;)
    Hi Annie
    I can feel your pain. I don’t know the details, but it is his problem and not yours. I see that you are trying to view it from his perspective, but perhaps take some time to look at what it is that hurt you so much. Once you can resolve that, you may find that self-love and from there the forgiveness.
    Perhaps other readers can help Annie out here a bit?

    Hi Ari
    True. I think that point has very much on my mind around this issue.

    Hi Evelyn
    Thank you for the compliment!

    Hi CG
    I like the way you put it: “all things begin at home”. I think I need to remember that for life in general.

    Juliet

    Reply
  16. Hi Juliet .. what a brilliant post – so pertinent to me at the moment and your other contributors have some challenging things going on & also some amazingly sensible suggestions ..

    I often stop berating myself .. as I realise it’s not sensible;
    if I’m becoming impatient with myself .. I just take a step back & start again;
    the putting the pain behind one from loved ones unthouhtful comments is very difficult .. it’s something I’ve learnt:
    - my mother 88 is dying & I just put myself into that bed (2 years now) & think how would I like to be treated? etc .. what would I need? .. how could they help me? – we tend to have a selfish streak in us

    I now try and put that sort of thinking into things I do or say .. I’m not perfect, but I’m getting better.

    Thanks again .. for a very good post .. on being kind to myself …

    Reply
  17. I really love this article. Yeah, i must admit. Sometimes i can be too harsh on myself too. And it ruined me. Didnt realize it at all… But it’s true..maybe i should also learn to be kind to myself … Thanks ea:)!!

    Reply
  18. Patience and encouragement is something that I could work at more.

    I like your points on not waiting for someone to do there things to/for us, we have to take the initiative to show kindness to ourselves.

    Reply
  19. This year I am working on truly listening to my authentic self (body, mind, and spirit) and I appreciate the words of wisdom you offer. For me to really listen to myself I need quality quiet time to listen to my inner wisdom.

    Reply
  20. Hi Juliet, great reflection here. I will be focusing on be patient, because it is my great weakness all this time. Thanks for sharing these, Juliet.

    Reply
  21. Forgiveness is definitely not easy. I often tell myself that since I’m working on being more patient and forgiving towards others, I might as well give myself the same treatment.

    Reply
  22. Thanks for this post. It relates to one thing I’ve been noticing recently — that when I’m not being nice to myself I’ll start depending on others to be kind to me, and that creates a dynamic nobody wants to be in. If I’m kind to myself I can let go of that attachment and just relax and have fun in relating with people. — Best, Chris

    Reply
  23. Hi Hilary
    That is a wonderful approach to put yourself into other’s shoes. I think that not only helps them, but ultimately yourself.

    Hi Kamelia
    Glad I could remind you to be gentle with yourself

    Hi Carla
    I think that that was one of my biggest realizations too: I need to act on it.

    Hi Stacey
    It is so important to be able to tap into our inner selves and use that strength and knowledge in the world.

    Hi Arswino
    I’m guilty of setting expectations for myself that are too high, but, one thing I often tell myself is that enjoyment is the most important thing at the end of the day.

    Hi Vered
    I think creating the spirit within yourself too will enable the patience and forgiveness to expand.

    Hi Chris
    That’s a very good observation. I try to extract myself from unhealthy dynamics.

    Thank you for your support everyone!
    Juliet

    Reply
  24. Hi Juliet – Many people overlook the idea of having a relationship with yourself, and especially having a good relationship with yourself! Thinking of the way that you would like to treat other people and then applying those ideas to yourself would be a great way to start being much kinder to yourself ;) I love this idea!

    Reply
    • Hi Juliet &

      Hi Amanda .. – thanks for that post .. what a sensible approach .. I ‘ll look into that idea and

      Juliet & everyone .. take some of the suggestions your articulate readers have put forward .. – it’s so helpful to me now .. thank you!

      Reply
  25. Hi Amanda

    “Having a relationship with yourself” is a wonderful way to think of it. That creates such potential! Thank you for contributing that.

    Hi Hilary

    So glad that you are benefiting from the conversation and topic.

    Juliet

    Reply
  26. What an awesome post! Thank-you!

    Reply
  27. Hi Juliet,

    Thank you for this excellent article. It’s great to see so many people have enjoyed it!

    I had meant to comment sooner, but the past few days I have had a cold (again). I think I need to be kinder to myself by accepting I can’t do everything I want to do, taking more time to relax and getting more sleep.

    Thanks again for the guest post :)

    Peter

    Reply
  28. Hi Carrie
    I appreciate the comment ;)

    Hi Peter
    Pleasure. I hope you feel better now.

    Juliet

    Reply
  29. Hi,
    Not long ago I also realized that I had somehow forgotten to be sweet. I used to be sweet when I was a child, and very very kind with everyone… even to myself. Somehow I changed into an ironic speech and a hardened soul and sweetness got lost somewhere in the process.
    It was listening to a video recorded by a super sweet woman that I realized how much of my own sweetness I had lost.
    Your post is an excellent reminder to be kind to others and oneself and I guess we can take that to every positive feeling we ever felt and lost in the way.
    Cheers,
    Patricia

    Reply
  30. Hi Patricia

    Thank you for your message: “we can take that to every positive feeling we ever felt and lost in the way”

    Juliet

    Reply
  31. It is only by learning to be kind to ourselves that we’d learn how to be kind to other people as well. Be blessed!

    Reply
  32. What a lovely post. My Ayurveda teachers have taught me to look at self kindness at a deeper level and have shown me that daily acts of self care are essential not only to our physical well-being but to our minds and hearts too.

    You make some important points in this post and I hope many will read them and reflect on how they can show themselves some kindness.

    Reply
  33. yes, also we should give our body some rest, this way we are kind to our bodies

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  34. I’m officially ashamed of myself and revamping my thought process as I read…I try my best to encourage others to reach their full potential and to not be so hard on themselves, and yet…don’t give myself the same respect, love and kindness in return. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this piece! I have a lot of apologizing to do to myself, needing forgiveness for all the hurt these part years…what better time to start than today?! ^_^.

    Reply
  35. This is a very great post indeed… Being a sensitive guy in his early 20′s, i often beat myself up if i did any mistakes or if others became angry at me.. For me not being nice to myself has made me so critical in my relationship with my girlfriend.. It has made me trust my girlfriend less and always having this negative thoughts that i am not good enough for her..

    Ive learnt that, I need to have faith in myself and love myself first before i can have faith and love someone else. It is a hard journey for me but the journey is worth fighting for. My girlfriend is my motivation and i will make sure she has the best man that she can ever ask for.. And all that begins with me…

    Reply

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