Being kind to yourself is one of the best things you can do for yourself, unfortunately it is completely underrated. And we are not just talking about buying yourself a new pair of shoes and calling it a great act of self-care. We are talking about radical self-kindness where we treat ourselves with respect and generosity, taking more risks and showing more vulnerability.
Just for a moment think about your best friend, your partner, your child or your parent who had a horrific day where everything went wrong and stressors have been striking them from every angle. What would you do?
There is no doubt in our minds that you would do everything in your power to console them, listen to them, emphasize with them, hug them and ask them what they need. Now imagine the person who had this terrible day and is stressed out, overwhelmed and anxious is you. Would you be just as kind and know how to help yourself?
There is this unfortunate misconception that when we embrace self-kindness and take better care of ourselves that we are weak and let ourselves off the hook. However, it’s actually quite the opposite. We aren’t self-indulgent or selfish, but we open ourselves up to a more expansive way of life, which creates an amazing ripple effect that helps us to be kinder to others as well.
While kindness may look different to different people, here are our TOP 10 ideas for being kinder to yourself.
#1 Pay Attention to Your Internal Dialogue
We all have days when our inner voice tells us that we aren’t good enough or that we had to do x, y and z to be happy and we can be very critical with ourselves. However, it is possible to turn things around and turn our internal dialogue into our best friend who is cheering us on and is positive, supportive and true. Start to pay close attention to what you say to yourself and how you say it and if it is too negative, take the time to learn how to reframe it. Keep in mind, this is not going to happen overnight. Just like learning a new language, you have to keep practicing until you become fluent in positive self-talk.
#2 Feel Your Feelings
Holding in our emotions and feelings is only going to lead to a big explosion at some point, so you need to give yourself permission to experience all the emotions and feelings that are coming up without judging them and without punishing yourself for having them. In order to be kinder to ourselves, we have to allow ourselves to feel the full range of emotions we are experiencing without covering them up or pouring a layer of contempt over them. When you are happy, be happy, when you are sad, be sad. Feelings are here for a reason and they inform you about what’s going on in your life right now, so feel them and allow them.
#3 Write a Love Letter to Yourself
Write yourself a glowing love letter in which you shower yourself with glorious praise for all your incredible talents, qualities, strengths and skills. And then read your love letter to yourself out loud every single day. If you find this challenging, read the letter several times a day, until it starts to sink in how wonderful you are. Being kind to ourselves means that we fill ourselves up with love as often as possible and self-love is the most powerful way to do it.
#4 Put Yourself First
How often have you heard to put yourself first and haven’t followed through? While it may seem obvious to put yourself on top of your to-do list, most people completely skip over it. There is always an excuse, the oh-so-important presentation that needs to be finished, a sick friend, an impending visit from out of town family. But those are all just excuses. If you really want to make yourself a priority, you will find a way. Take a good, hard look at how you spend your time or how often you put other people first and then make the necessary adjustments to make yourself the most important priority in your life.
#5 Invest in Yourself
The best investment you can ever make in life is an investment in yourself. Make it a point to spend 30 minutes every single morning or evening to take care of yourself, read an inspiring book, listen to an empowering podcast, watch an uplifting movie. Do everything you can to understand yourself and the world better, which in turn helps you to live a life true to yourself and improve yourself tremendously. But don’t just consume the information that can make you learn and grow, take action on what you’ve learned and put it into practice.
#6 Take a Laugh-Break
However busy and stressful your day may be, find 5 minutes in the middle of your workday to take a laugh-break. Read a funny book or watch a hilarious video, listen to a podcast that you know will make you laugh. Whatever inspires you to laugh, do it and take five minutes to laugh out loud. It can be one of the most effective ways to recharge your energy, release tension and fill yourself up with optimism for the rest of the day.
#7 Treat Yourself to a Day Out
At least once a month – if you can make it once a week, even better – schedule a date with yourself, put it on your calendar and make it a non-negotiable. And then do something that you know will make you feel good, whether that’s taking yourself to the movies, a fancy dinner, a meditation class or some other physical activity, make sure you stick to the plan and do something you absolutely love. And an added bonus is that studies show that even the anticipation of the upcoming feel-good experience will make you happier.
#8 Exercise the word ‘NO’
It may just be a two-letter word, but ‘NO’ holds a lot of power and there is something to be said about putting yourself first. When you feel stressed out, say ‘NO’ to an event, whether that’s for work or social life, and speak up for yourself. Know your limitations and when your plate is already full, decline politely whatever has been offered to you. Remember, saying ‘No’ is not a sign of weakness, it’s actually an incredible sign of strength and self-respect and people will appreciate your honesty.
#9 Practice Loving Kindness Meditation
This particular mediation is focused on cultivation compassion and research shows that it can improve your emotional intelligence and decrease your stress levels. While there are many benefits to a regular meditation practice, this specific practice has the power to take the bliss you feel while meditating out into the world and you’ll find it easier to speak with kindness to yourself when you have made a mistake. You are kinder when you meet a stranger, you are kinder to your family and friends and you are kinder to yourself.
#10 Reframe Challenges
A lot of us equate a challenge with failure and worry that a less than perfect performance lowers our worth. But keep in mind, there is no such thing as perfection and imperfection doesn’t exist either. Reframe your challenges in a new way and see them as information. By letting go of the negativity surrounding challenges, we can increase our ability for self-kindness and use them as an opportunity to learn and grow. Without challenges we would never figure out what skills and talents we already have and which ones are lacking a bit, but can be improved with a little bit of effort and patience.
We’ve been taught to be kind to others from early childhood, but more often than not we forget to put ourselves on that list as well. But keep in mind, there is only one person in this world you will always have a relationship with and that’s yourself. So make sure that you start today to be a better friend to yourself by being kind to yourself.
BECAUSE YOU DESERVE IT!
Joschi & Monika