It’s important to be kind. Kindness is always needed. I always see memes on social media about being kind because “you never know the battles people are fighting”. I agree this is important, and we can do this in a thousand small ways every day. Being kind to others is an important part of our society and helps to keep the fabric of our relationships together.
But what if there is one person who needs kindness more than anyone else you know? What if there was one central individual who, if they don’t get kindness from you, will simply collapse without it? Who is that main person who needs your kindness more than anyone else? Is it your Mum? Your child? Your friend?
Friend, the person I believe who needs kindness from you more than anyone else you know is YOU.
So often we have learned that the only way to learn or grow or motivate ourselves is to be harsh and tough with ourselves. We call ourselves ‘stupid’, ‘idiot’, ‘dummy’, ‘fat’, lazy’, ‘useless’… the list goes on, depending on what it is you are frustrated with yourself about. You think that by giving yourself a good talking to (in the negative sense), it may make you change your behaviour or habits or emotions or…. (add in your own target here).
The difficulty here is that this approach can work for a while. But for whatever reason at some point it stops working, it stops motivating change, however that internal critical voice is still there. So, you have frustration with yourself for not doing what you believe you should be doing as well as the name calling and dislike of yourself.
Would it be possible to start to give yourself the benefit of the doubt? Maybe, instead of being lazy, you haven’t made that change because you are afraid? Wouldn’t it be more useful and productive to look at what you are afraid of and resolve that, rather than label yourself? Maybe when you gained that weight you were under a lot of stress with no idea how to handle it and so that was your coping strategy? Wouldn’t it be more useful to look at ways to handle stress rather than label yourself for that? Maybe when you didn’t perform as well as you should you weren’t engaged in the work for very good reasons that would be useful to think about rather than label yourself for that?
Compassion for others is borne out of compassion and understanding of yourself. When you understand yourself in a deep, gentle way, it is much easier to see others in the same light.
Love for others is borne out of the love that you have for yourself. If you can ease up on believing that critical inner voice and be with yourself in kindness, compassion and understanding, then you have a good platform to be like that with your loved ones.
Be kind to yourself today. Be curious about yourself. Ask yourself a question rather than giving yourself a hard time. Instead of ‘oh you didn’t do ‘exercise/task/whatever today, you are such a no-hoper’, ask yourself “why didn’t I?” Listen to your answers. Take them seriously. Be understanding of your reasons. Resolve what can be resolved, and learn to live free in your own self-acceptance.
Take a deep breath and breathe it right out again.
Bronwyn Tough – Counselling Psychologist based in Midland, Perth.
Enquire about a session with Bronwyn