How To Be Kinder To Yourself
Why is it that we save the harshest language and foulest criticism for ourselves? We would never speak to a loved one, colleague, or friend in the same tone or with the same language we use internally, but learning how to go easy on yourself after years of harmful thought patterns takes effort and patience - you just have to be willing to try.
Look After Yourself
The very foundation of being kind towards yourself starts with the basics; wholesome food, and a wholesome lifestyle. You don't have to live like a saint every single day, but making sure you give your body the nutrients, sleep, and exercise it needs is a huge act of physical kindness that has a direct impact on your mental wellbeing.
Listen To Yourself
Taking a moment to listen for natural cues; hunger, thirst, the need for sleep or rest - can often be drowned out by a busy lifestyle. Favouring social events and working out of hours when your body craves rest, or continuing to eat when your stomach is full are all examples of ignoring what our body is trying to tell us, and can send us spiralling into worse mental and physical health. Meditation - especially body scan meditations - can be enlightening to what we need in the moment, and making a habit of prioritising our natural cycles over the ones we impose can improve the balance of daily life.
Recognise & Celebrate Your Achievements
Berating ourselves for perceived failures happens far more often than celebrating what went right. As many times in a day as you get annoyed for saying the wrong thing, making the wrong calculation, or failing to nail a project at work, you should double down on the things that went right; from making a friend to learning something new. Writing down what you're proud of on a regular basis can open your eyes to how much positivity there is in your day, and can drown out the focus on the negative.
Have you ever been to the shops and seen your partner's/colleague's/friend's favourite chocolate bar, and decided to surprise them with a treat? You should give the same amount of thought to yourself; it doesn't have to be material - simply running a bath, or treating yourself to your favourite film instead of doing chores one evening can be a good enough gift to let yourself know you're thinking of number one.
Let Go of Perfection
Our greatest enemy is striving for the impossible. Whether it's a body type, relationship, or job performance, setting yourself a bar that doesn't exist can lead to feelings of inadequacy and failure. Setting goals that are focused on progress rather than an end point can reframe an unhealthy attitude towards perfection, and letting go of the need to be perfect little by little will propel you to greater success. For example, choosing to eat healthy food 80% of your week instead of every single meal, or accepting that one wrong answer in an interview is a perfectly normal and human behaviour - and doesn't make you any less worthy a candidate.
Stick Up For Yourself
Criticism can come from the outside world too, and we can be our own worst enemy by believing what others have to say. You can stand up for yourself without getting defensive; if the criticism is constructive, look to see how your strengths can enhance what any flaws may be, and if it isn't constructive, don't let the opinions of those who don't have your best interests at heart affect you.
When we slip up - whether that's saying the wrong thing, failing to get a job you really wanted, or not sticking to your workout routine - we often berate ourselves over and over again, far more than is necessary for the one behaviour that you considered wrong. Moving on from the times you slip up is vital to growth, and a constant return to making yourself feel guilty only holds you back. Making a habit of forgiving yourself opens up your mind to doing your best the next time a similar situation comes around.
Which acts of kindness do you perform towards yourself? We'd love to hear how you look out for yourself at firstname.lastname@example.org