Life can be challenging, with many variables outside of your control. We all have experienced stress from one time or another based on the many different spinning hats we each wear that stem from our careers, families, hobbies, care-giving, parenting, etc that the stress of them all can often take a toll on us.
It is not easy to manage the flurry of emotions that arise, especially during difficult times. You may notice yourself becoming extremely hard on yourself when things don’t go your way. You may find yourself having negative thoughts, not believing you can accomplish your own goals, feeling like you “can’t do” whatever you set your heart to or simply feel like you just aren’t good enough.
But did you know, when we experience difficult times and are more forgiving to ourselves, these difficult emotions have less of an effect on our overall emotional well-being?
We can’t always predict what life throws our way. However, there are things that you can actually do that will help you to be kinder to yourself when you start to feel out of control or in despair at any time in your life.
So, before we dive into some tips about how to be kinder to yourself, let’s first define what it means to be kind to yourself in the first place.
Being kind to yourself has 4 hallmarks:
- Speaking to yourself in a kind tone
- Understanding that pain is a universal experience
- Looking at your emotions clearly in a way that neither suppresses nor exaggerates them
- Setting realistic expectations for yourself in any given situation
Do you find yourself struggling to comprehend stressful situations when they happen? Do you self-deprecate when things don’t go the way you had planned?
If so; you are not alone! Many people struggle to treat themselves with kindness especially when things don’t get exactly as planned.
So; you may wonder how to treat yourself kinder and that’s what I’m here to help you with.
Below are my tips on how to help be kinder to yourself:
- Show up for your difficult feelings. Sitting alone with your thoughts is difficult and can feel unnatural. This is why practicing is vital to being kinder to yourself, especially when life gets tough. Difficult emotions have much to teach us, particularly when we stop labeling them as difficult. Notice when and how you are avoiding your own challenging feelings and try to stop doing so.
- 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.
- Do things you like. Even if you are the most belittling self-talker in the world, there are still actions you can take to be nicer to yourself. Notice how you already take care of yourself and what that looks like for you. Know that you don’t need to start meditating or model your self-kindness on how others are kind to themselves. Maybe your idea of self-kindness is to listen to music, dance, read, call a loved one or play board games with your family. Perhaps it is something different. Whatever it is, notice that doing it brings you joy and make an effort to do it more often.
- Center on what you value. Many of our ways of doing things have changed since the Covid -19 pandemic. Some people lost their jobs or began working remotely. Other people have lost friends and family. But, these challenges and tragedies can demonstrate how we can do a better job showing up in our lives and embodying our values.
For example, if supporting your family financially is important to you but you have lost your job, try supporting them in other ways, including emotionally or spiritually. There is always a way to adapt and embody our best selves, even in the midst of tragedy. It is also a true act of self-kindness and self-care.
- Ground yourself. When you begin to feel unsettled or scared, pay special attention to your feet. Notice how they are planted to the ground and that the floor supports you. Bring your attention back to the current moment and try to anchor yourself to the present. Taking your mind off of your thoughts might help you feel more clear headed and settled.
- Notice what you are grateful for. Actively taking time to be grateful brings more joy to your life and can help take your mind off of your negative thoughts. Gratitude can happen even in the smallest of moments — a hot cup of coffee, a particularly bright morning or even just the thought that you are alive one more day.
- 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.
- 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. Compliment yourself. Pat yourself on the back and say the following: “Kudos to me!”
- Cultivate Your Inner Advocate. We’re all familiar with the inner critic. It’s that little voice in our head 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 briefcase).
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
I hope these tips can help you begin to be kinder to yourself and encourage you to incorporate these into your everyday life.
If you have the habit of being self-critical or pessimistic, it can be difficult to imagine what showing yourself kindness even looks like. Practicing may feel unnatural, awkward, and fake. But remembering what it feels like to be kind to others can make the whole process of being kind to yourself easier.
There’s only one person in the world you’ll always have a relationship with, and that’s yourself. Therefore, you better start making sure that you’re a good companion to yourself. Live your best life by being kind to yourself. You can get started with the tips explained above.
If you find yourself having trouble with being kind to yourself and notice it having a negative impact on your life, Solid Foundations Therapy is here to help! Visit our website at www.solidfoundationstherapy.com or give us a call at 630-633-8532 today!