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How to be Kinder to Yourself Today

‘Be kind’ was one of the first messages or lessons taught to me growing up.

In fact, it was and remains one of the most important values taught to me as a small child.

When reflecting on my childhood, both at home and school, all around me were messages relating to the importance of being kind. I am guessing that is much the same for you.

So, if you, like me became aware of how important it is to be kind to others and how being unkind to someone would cause them a lot of pain, you are also hopefully, very skilled at ways of being kind…to others.

But what we often did not get told was how to be kinder to yourself or why it even matters.  Without this lesson, we instead choose poor self-talk and criticism and wonder why we struggle to meet our goals.

Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”  Louise L Hay

There are many reasons for this, both cultural and neurobiological.  Whatever they are, the reality is that the practice of self-kindness is mostly missing in the self-talk we use.

We know that the being critical of others can lead to chronic stress, anxiety, depression, poor performance at work and have a profoundly negative impact on our health and well-being … being self-critical has the same effect.

Conversely, practising self-kindness leads to us feeling happier, being healthier, having great relationships, feeling safer and connected and when we respond to our mistakes and failures with kindness, we acknowledge them quicker, learn from them and move on with more resilience.

Most people I know would not put up with someone being so unkind them and would certainly not talk to someone else that way.

So, why do it to yourself?  Often, it’s because you aren’t aware of it.

Most of my clients, until they come and work with me, have little awareness of how they are talking to themselves let alone the effect it is having on their mood and behaviours.

The first step is therefore becoming more mindful and self-aware.

Remember that one of the ways we learnt to be kind to others when we were little, was to have it pointed out to us when we weren’t; when the other person looked sad or began to cry we became aware of the feedback we got and changed our behaviour.

In many ways, learning to do this for yourself is a simple route to practicing a kinder and more compassionate way of being.

How to be kinder to yourself today

My invitation to you just for today is to:

  1. Pay attention to how you are talking to yourself, are you being kind or critical and mean?
  2. How are you feeling?
  3. Pause and if you notice you are being critical and mean, ask yourself “would I talk to someone I loved in this way”?
  4. If you know you wouldn’t, then take a moment and talk to yourself in the same voice, tone and volume you would to someone you loved and were being kind to.
  5. Do this at very regular intervals throughout the day and notice how you feel when you are being kinder to yourself.

Often, I am told that one of the reasons for being self-critical is to improve performance, behaviour and achieve goals… and I would ask you to imagine what it would be like, when you know it is possible to motivate yourself with kindness instead…. just a thought.

until next time,

Helen

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