“Be gentle first with yourself if you wish to be gentle with others.” ~Lama Yeshe
It is so important to be kind to yourself. Hell maybe this is one of the most important things for us learn how to do. And it is something I struggle mightily with. I am always berating myself and putting myself down.
The negative self talk is almost non stop. I am not sure why this is so. Is it tied to my Dysthymic Disorder? Or is it a learned behavior? Is it possible to train your brain to be kind to yourself and practice self compassion?
I love my friends. My best friends have been in my life since elementary and junior high school and we are still as close as we were then. I would die for them. I treat them with love and respect and compassion. A person needs to treat themselves the same way. You need to recognize yourself as a friend. After all you spend more time with yourself than with anyone else.
When we feel compassion for others, we feel kindness toward them, empathy, and a desire to help reduce their suffering.
It’s the same when you are compassionate toward yourself. Self-compassion creates a caring space within you that is free of judgment—a place that sees your hurt and your failures and softens to allow those experiences with kindness and caring.
Ways To Be Kind To Yourself
1. Carve Out Some Time For Yourself. Every day carve out some time for yourself and do something that brings you joy. You can draw, journal, write short stories, play a musical instrument, or do anything else that you love to do. Be kind to yourself by giving yourself some “me time” each day.
2. Give Yourself Recognition. Often, we’re quick to acknowledge the achievements of others, but slow to acknowledge our own. That has to stop. Become aware of your own achievements and give yourself recognition.
When you do something you’re proud of, stop for a minute and dwell on it. Praise yourself and relish the achievement. Complement yourself. Pat yourself on the back and say the following: “Kudos to me!”
3. Cultivate Your Inner Advocate. We’re all familiar with the inner critic. It’s that little voice in our heads that’s quick to judge and is always ready with a put down. Well, it’s time for your inner critic to meet your inner advocate.
And who exactly is this inner advocate? It’s another voice in your head: the one that defends you. When your inner critic comes at you with ridicule and scorn, your inner advocate jumps in and presents arguments on your behalf. While your inner critic is against you, your inner advocate is for you.
Be kind to yourself by cultivating your inner advocate (mine wears Armani suits and carries a black leather Gucci brief case).
4. Forgive Yourself. We all mess up. Look at the following:
- Maybe you did something in the past that you’re not proud of.
- Perhaps you failed to stand up for yourself and you let someone else get the better of you.
- You may have missed a great opportunity because you got scared.
- Maybe you failed to follow through on an important goal.
If you’re angry at yourself, you need to show yourself kindness: stop blaming yourself, resolve to do better from now on, and forgive yourself.
5. Take Good Care of Yourself. One of the best ways to show yourself kindness is to take good care of yourself. Get enough sleep, eat fruits and vegetables, and get some form of exercise on a regular basis. In addition, choose a way to release stress, be well groomed, and look after your appearance.
6. Respect Yourself. Self-respect is valuing yourself for who you are, and not allowing others to dictate your value. It’s trusting yourself, thinking for yourself, forming your own opinions, and making your own decisions. In addition, it’s refusing to compare yourself to others.
Finally, self-respect is about keeping your promises to yourself and following through on what you tell yourself that you’re going to do. Be kind to yourself by deeply respecting yourself.
— Mark Lowe (@MarkKLowe) January 18, 2017
7. Treat Yourself. I’m not advocating shopping therapy, or consumerism(this IS a blog about living simply after all!). However, if you see something that you really want, treat yourself. If it’s expensive, save up for it. You don’t have to wait for someone else to give it to you as a gift. Give it to yourself. (You get bonus points if you get the shop to wrap it in colorful gift wrap.)
8. Practice Mindful Meditation. Being mindful is about noticing what is happening in the moment and having no judgment about it. Notice your hurt and just be with it, compassionately and with kindness.
Did you have a tough day? Did you get into an argument with a co-worker or a friend? Did you bomb your presentation? Was it one of those days in which everything that could wrong, did go wrong? Be kind to yourself by soothing yourself. Do the following:
- Soak in a hot tub. Add scented bath oil.
- Give yourself a scalp massage. Rub your feet.
- Pour a glass of wine(if that’s your thing) and sit back with a mystery novel.
After all, nobody knows how to soothe you better than you.
9. Remind Yourself of Your Good Qualities. Maybe you’re a little heavier than “the ideal body type”, but you have long, lustrous hair. Maybe you’re not great at sports, but you’re an ace at math. Maybe you have a tendency to be melodramatic, but you have a great sense of humor. You are amazing at something. Celebrate it! Always remind yourself of your good qualities.
10. Lift Yourself Up. When you fail, make a mistake, or do something wrong, you have two choices. You can tear yourself down, or you can lift yourself up. People who are kind to themselves choose the latter.
Tell yourself it’s going to be OK. Give yourself a morale boost by reminding yourself of your past successes. Then, come up with a plan for dealing with what happened, and take action.
11. Tell Yourself, “I Am Enough”. We’ve all had times in our lives when we’ve thought, “I’m not good looking enough, or smart enough, or strong enough to get what I want.” Stop it with the “I’m not enough” self-talk and replace it with the following;
- “I’m enough, just as I am.”
- “I’m worthy.”
- “I deserve to be happy.”
- “I deserve to have everything I want.”
In addition, tell yourself that nothing has to happen to make you worthy. You are already enough.
12. Honor Your Dreams. People who respect themselves–people who practice self compassion and self love–honor their dreams. That is, they don’t downplay their dreams by labeling them as silly fantasies. Instead, they take their dreams seriously by turning those dreams into goals, and creating a plan for achieving those goals. I want to travel for extended periods and I am actually making it happen!
13. Find the Sweet Spot Between Acceptance and Striving. Part of being kind to yourself is acknowledging your potential. As was stated in the previous point, you should know what you want and go after it. However, never being satisfied with where you are, or with what you have achieved so far in life, is being unkind to yourself.
Be kind to yourself by finding the sweet spot between being happy with who you are, while taking action to become even better.
14. Stop Trying to Be Perfect. People who set a standard of perfection for themselves are setting themselves up for failure. After all, perfection is unachievable. Can you think of anything more unkind than making success impossible for yourself?
Instead of setting a standard of “perfection” for yourself, aim to improve, one step at a time.
15. Show Yourself Self Compassion. In the book, How to Be Your Own Best Friend by Mildred Newman and Bernard Berkowitz, the authors recommend that you befriend yourself by showing yourself compassion. The best way to feel compassion for yourself is to imagine that someone you love is feeling hurt. Look at the following:
- What would you say to them?
- How would you treat them?
- How would you reassure them?
- How would you make them feel cared for and loved?
This is a pretty cool exercise to try. Most of us have had to help a friend feel better when they have been down. Why not do the same for yourself?
If I Want To Be The Best Version of Myself I Need Self Compassion
I am a work in progress. I am making positive changes to become a better person. Learning how to be kind to yourself may just be the most important piece of the puzzle.
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“Change The Code. Change Your Life.”