To be kind to yourself is one of the hardest things in the world. It’s easy to be kind to other people, to go that extra mile to help make their day better or to be of service in some small way. However, between the critical voice in our head, our impatience when we make mistakes, and just plain ignoring some of our very basic physical (get enough sleep lately?) and emotional needs, how often do we afford that kindness to ourselves?
It is more important than ever to be kind to yourself in these challenging times. It’s so easy to compare yourself to the person that seems to be doing it all, from making gourmet meals to cutting their family’s hair to learning a new language, all whilst balancing the stress of our day to day lives in a pandemic. We have to remember that most of us are trying to focus on the positive on social media so we are presenting things in a flattering light where we can. It doesn’t mean we’ve got it all together – and neither do the people we compare ourselves to!
Many of us have found our inner critical voice is getting much louder these days, fuelled by anxiety and our compulsion to keep up with what is happening. Ignoring that critical voice and being kind to yourself is hard. It is not, however, impossible. Here are some techniques I use to help me be kind to myself.
How To Be Kind To Yourself
Do One Thing at a Time
Human beings are physically incapable of doing more than one thing at a time properly – although goodness knows we try. Doing One Thing at a Time can make life so much better.
Hold the Same Standards For Yourself and For Others
Do you have the same expectations of yourself as you have of others? Or are your expectations for yourself much higher?
When I was a new mom, I expected nothing short of perfection in terms of how I looked after my son, kept our home and looked after my appearance. Yet I didn’t expect my friends’ houses to be spotless or for them to look like they had just been away to a spa. I know a woman with five children under the age of ten who berates herself for not being able to keep up with the housework! There’s a man who lives in our street whose (pre-pandemic) job and long commute made it impossible to get a decent work life balance but did he blame the job situation or traffic? Nope, he blamed himself.
The other day, I got myself in a bit of a snit, all because I compared myself to someone who I follow on social media. It seemed to me they were accomplishing a lot more during these challenging times than I was. It appeared they were being more creative and managing to do more, despite everything going on both in their lives and around them. Instead of acknowledging that we all cope differently, I got really angry with myself. Then I reminded myself that if you are looking for things to do when you are staying in and staying safe, that’s absolutely fine. If your plate is full, that is fine too. Some of us will use the pandemic as an excuse to clean our homes from top to bottom and learn Mandarin. Many of us (including me) probably won’t.
Next time you find yourself being critical because you haven’t met your own very high standards, think about what you would say to a friend in a similar situation. It’s totally unfair and unethical to hold yourself to higher standards than those to which you hold others.
Be Kind To Yourself – Allow Yourself to Make Mistakes
When someone you love makes a mistake, it’s totally unacceptable to berate them for hours and remind them of it on and off for the next several years. Yet most of us do this to ourselves on a regular basis.
It’s easy to obsess about things we wish we had done differently but we have to allow ourselves the same grace we offer to others. Remind the critical voice in your head that you are human too. Forgiving ourselves is every bit as crucial to our spiritual health as forgiving others. If we don’t make mistakes, we don’t grow.
Take Time Out
It is incredibly important to take time out on a regular basis. I’ve shared painless ways to do this – ways that will actually enhance your productivity – in this post. Read a magazine, spend some time with a book, listen to a podcast or take a walk – whatever it takes to uplift you and make you feel whole. You are worth it.
It’s Important To Be Kind To Yourself
These are just baby steps but I encourage you to incorporate them in your daily life. Make the extra effort to be kind to yourself as well as to others. Especially now as we all face so much uncertainty and so many challenges, you’ll be amazed at the difference it can make to your life, your health and your success.
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