We are reminded regularly to treat others with kindness, but when was the last time you were reminded that you are deserving of it yourself? There are a lot of things we need to hear right now, but there are three I want you to walk away from this blog today knowing:
Kindness isn’t the same thing as niceness.
You deserve kindness.
And, most importantly: You owe yourself kindness.
Often, the thought of being kind to ourselves feels indulgent. Like a privilege we must earn for good behavior or as a reward for notable achievement. It is not. You do not need to hold yourself hostage to receive grace in your life- not from everyone else, and especially not from yourself.
Let’s talk about how to be kind to yourself (and why it’s imperative that you do).
Spend time on self-care
Investing time and energy into the things that nourish your soul is a critical element of self-kindness. Caring for yourself can be guilt-inducing and challenging work, but it is the foundation of showing yourself kindness. Recently, the term seems to have evolved into a new way of saying treat yourself, but realistically, caring for your mind and body can be a challenge.
Self-care includes more than just relaxation. Things like getting enough sleep, nourishing your body with food and movement, or setting boundaries are essential elements of caring for yourself. Doing those things may feel like denying yourself of other things you want to do, but meeting your needs with grace and surety instead of punishment is good self-care.
Balance fun and function
While self-care may not always look like the indulgence we’ve come to view it as, it’s essential to take time for those genuinely indulgent forms of care. Make time for your favorite hobbies and relaxation, and make it just as non-negotiable as you would an obligation to someone else. Balancing those obligatory forms of self-care with more relaxing or rewarding forms is a critical facet of ensuring you are giving space to your peace.
Fortify those boundaries
If you find yourself struggling with finding kindness or compassion for yourself, you likely need to work on boundaries. Boundaries don’t just apply to when and how people touch you or to needing that meeting to end on time. Boundaries extend into every aspect of your life and of the self. We are most disrespectful to our own needs by allowing our emotional boundaries to fall away or be violated with little to no resistance.
When you enforce a boundary on the availability of your time or emotional space, it reinforces to others and yourself that your needs are not negotiable. Boundaries communicate autonomy, emotional awareness and help prevent burnout from the things that seek to threaten your peace. Every time you hold a limit in place, you show yourself kindness by telling others that your self-respect is not negotiable.
Forgive and accept
Who you think you should be and who you are are different people. It’s a hard thing to accept, but it’s an important one. Every time you measure yourself against an idealistic version, you are letting yourself down. Instead of meeting those misalignments with criticism and judgment, it’s vital to your well-being that you practice radical self-acceptance.
When you fall short of a behavior or ideal you feel you should have obtained, forgive and accept. Practice offering yourself these things in the form of saying, “It could have gone this way, but it didn’t. That’s okay.”. Compassion for the self begins with kindness toward the self, and acceptance is the first step toward both.
What if we replaced the focus we put on self-esteem with a focus on self-compassion? The distinction between the two holds an important insight: self-esteem relies on our evaluation of our worth. At the same time, self-compassion implies offering grace for our existence. Imagine if we stopped trying to bolster our value to ourselves and others and instead took that energy and poured it into curiosity for our passions. If we didn’t allow these to define our worth, the world becomes a playground for exploration instead of an exam to prove our validity. Recognizing your humanity, making room for it in beautiful and trying times, and asking questions to explore the depth and value in each is a powerful way to embrace kindness toward yourself.
There is no denying that our global society puts an emphasis on cultivating kindness to one another. Even if we often fall short, that goal is still primarily a shared one. But where is the focus on being kind to ourselves? When we are on airplanes, the flight attendants always insist on securing our own oxygen masks first. Being kind to yourself is much the same practice. Put that compassion to work in your own heart, and turn your thoughts toward kindness when speaking to yourself.
If you’re unsure where to begin, and you recognize how your history of addiction has eroded your sense of self, self-compassion therapy at Villa Kali Ma can guide your journey toward a kinder and more vibrant you.