Welcome to my very first article on this blog. I am passionate about this topic because I had to learn it the hard way. I had so much trouble being kind to myself. So, how to be kinder to yourself is a question I’ve had for quite a while until I read Kristin’s Self-compassion book.
Imagine that you and your friend are in a café, chilling and talking over coffee and sweets when all of a sudden, she drops her hot coffee and wet herself. How would you respond? You probably won’t stand there and do anything. That would be unkind and unfriendly. You wouldn’t say how clumsy you are, you can’t even hold a coffee right. That would hurt her feelings. You wouldn’t want to hurt your friend’s feelings, right? Yet often, that’s how we treat ourselves when we have setbacks and sufferings.
We tend to be extremely hard on ourselves and subject ourselves to harsh criticisms as we go through our daily lives. We are naturally inclined to self-critique. We doubt our self-worth and think that we are not good enough. We say hurtful words to ourselves in times of suffering and failure.
I’m here to tell you that self-criticism fails to help us. It crushes our spirit and confidence. It diminishes our sense of self-worth and leads us to be afraid of constantly failing. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can replace them with kinder and healthier ways of treating ourselves. So stay with me in this article if:
- You want to be kinder to yourself.
- You want to learn how to be more compassionate and supportive of yourself.
- You want to learn how to practice self-compassion
Dealing with self-criticism
To deal with self-criticism, we first have to understand where it is coming from. What causes us to be harsh on ourselves? First is the highly critical society that we are in. People nowadays tend to criticize every action that we do.
Their judgmental words and voices are everywhere. Thanks to the internet, it was easy to just shout opinions and judgments to someone without filtering them. Because of this, we subject ourselves to trust their intuition and seek their approval.
Societal pressure encourages us to be self-critical. It comes from how society celebrates, such as material success, Instagram success, and physical attractiveness. This way of measuring one’s success leads to thinking and feeling that we’ll never be better than anyone else. Perfecting is way out of our reach.
We wire ourselves into comparisons to others. Not only the society which encourages us to be self-critical but specific people such as parents, friends, and relatives. When they lace their criticisms and remark about the way we do things, even little things, they add up to a general thought like “I need to be better, I am not perfect, and unless I’m perfect, I’m not worthy of love.” We tend to internalize their judgments and we carry them into our lives.
Only when you stop caring at what people think and say about you, you can truly be self-compassionate
The only way you can battle this is not to care about what people think of you. Take their judgments as clothes. Their judgments are like clothes you can put on and take off. You can choose what to wear. You can choose the clothes you want to wear clothes that make you happy and confident.
The same goes with other people’s judgments, you have the power to decide what to take in. You have the power to not listen and not care. After all, they, too are preoccupied, self-absorbed, and self-serving. So the key message here is: stop caring about what people think and You have the power to not care about people’s judgments of you.
HOW TO BE KINDER TO YOURSELF?
Self-care is important for everyone, but especially for those who are in leadership positions. Leaders need to take care of themselves so that they can better serve their teams.
01. Show Awareness
Self-compassion begins with the acknowledgment of our struggles, hardships, and pain. Are your words self-critical? Stop and observe. Are you annoyed with yourself? Stop and ask why? What caused you to be annoyed? Tune in to the feeling and be mindful. Be present. Once you acknowledge your feelings, then you will know how to respond to them. Choose kindness and care as a response.
02. Show Kindness
If you want to know how to be kinder to yourself, you got to start by showing kindness.
Start with essential comfort and pair them with comfort actions. Examples of comfort words are I’m sorry you are going through tough times. I know you’ve got this. I am proud of you. I know you are going through hard times, but it’s time to take care of yourself too. Send yourself empowering messages.
Comfort actions include a hug or a tap on the shoulder. It might sound ridiculous to hug your own self but I promise you it helps. It gives signals of calmness, relaxation, and safety to your body.
03. Fall in love with yourself
Loving yourself is overcoming your flaws and insecurities. When you practice self-love, you embrace yourself for everything that you are. And when you truly accept who you are, you genuinely become better and better. You become more passionate, kinder, and more passionate. Quote: be your biggest fan.
04. Schedule a self-love day
When you look at your daily to-do list? How much time is dedicated to you? Probably not enough. Prioritizing yourself and allocating time for yourself is so important, so put some time for self-love on your to-do lists.
Things you can do can be simply: take a warm bath, visit a cafe you love, read books, get a relaxing massage, or treat yourself to a movie. Be good to yourself. You deserve all the love and care. This is the secret to knowing how to be kinder to yourself.
05. Find your happy place
We live in a society that constantly reminds us to connect with others and catch up with others but it is also important to find yourself, especially your happy place, and take time to switch off. Think about a place where you can be your true self, where you can unwind and feel at ease.
When things get overwhelming, head to your happy place and switch off. Do whatever makes you feel good and just enjoy!
06. Give yourself a treat
If you’re feeling down, take some time out for yourself. Go for a walk, read a book, watch a movie, or even go shopping. Just make sure you give yourself a treat every now and then.
When we feel stressed, our bodies release chemicals called cortisol and adrenaline into our bloodstream. These hormones help us deal with stress, but they also cause us to crave sugar and other foods high in carbohydrates.
In fact, research shows that people who eat sugary snacks after being stressed tend to gain weight. However, if you give yourself a treat once in a while, you’ll find that you won’t want to reach for those unhealthy options anymore.
07. Take Time For You
If you want to be a leader who inspires others, you must first inspire yourself. This means taking time for yourself. Make sure you eat well, exercise regularly, sleep enough, and spend quality time with friends and family.
08. Do Something Nice For Someone Else.
You might not think of yourself as an altruistic person, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do something nice for someone else. It doesn’t matter how big or small the act is; just make sure you do something nice for someone.
09. Say Thank You
It’s easy to feel guilty when you’re doing something nice for yourself. So say thank you! Even if it’s just a simple “thank you” note, it will help you feel better.
HOW TO PRACTICE SELF-COMPASSION
Affirmations are a potent and helpful tool to practice self-compassion. They combat limiting beliefs about yourself and boost confidence and self-worth. If you’re projecting stress, all you see is stress around you. Still, when you project a positive attitude by using positive affirmations, you see positivity around you. And when you add comfort, you’ll no longer be absorbed by your suffering. You’ll be able to create space between yourself and your hardships.
When you feel all alone with your problem, it would be easy to be down and be hard on yourself. You feel like you are the only unfortunate person. As if everyone is happy except you. You feel as if you are the only person in the world who is suffering. It’s so easy to amplify negative feelings but the truth is you are not alone. Your sufferings and hardships are common.
Your fears and other people’s fears too. So one way to practice compassion is by recognizing our shared problems. Recognize that other people experience the same hardships and struggles in life. Once you recognize this, you’ll realize that everyone makes mistakes, everyone fails and everyone is flawed and imperfect.
Sharing is caring
Ready to be kinder to yourself?
Next time you are self-critical, stop and observe. Ask yourself why. Acknowledge your feelings and situation then respond with kindness, comfort, and compassion.
When you screw things up, remind yourself that, of course, everyone makes mistakes. Of course, we fail at something, and we lose at things. We are only humans, after all.