As children, one of our first relationships is with our imaginary friends. They are friends who listen to us without judgment and always seem more capable than us. These fantasy relationships we develop at tender age help us understand ourselves within relationships. It helps us believe that we are competent and autonomous.
Unfortunately, as we grow older, our notions of self-worth change. There are times where we no longer feel competent or capable. Though we usually strive to be kind to others, we forget to extend that degree of kindness to ourselves.
So, how do we become kind to ourselves?
- Take care of yourself.
Taking care of yourself usually means covering the basics–grooming and eating. But, taking care of yourself is more than making sure you eat and bathe.
Many people usually mention self-care as a way of taking care of yourself, but taking yourself is broader than that. Taking care of yourself is an act of kindness, and it does not need to be an extravagant event. It can be something as simple as making sure you get enough sleep, allowing yourself to have a good cry, or eating well.
At times, we are far more forgiving to others than we are towards ourselves. Maybe you regret something you did or do not do, or maybe you are not proud of, but it’s necessary to realize that we all mess up. It’s an inherent part of being human.
If you allow yourself to accept your past mistakes, you can then learn to stop blaming yourself. If you need any help or guidance, please reach out to a health care professional.
- Pat yourself on the back.
When you notice a friend who is a bit down, you usually try to cheer them up. So, do the same for yourself! Pat yourself on the back for all the great things you have been able to accomplish. Celebrate yourself when you reach a personal goal and motivate yourself when you feel a bit down in the dumps.
- Be gentle to yourself.
Being gentle to yourself is a broad term, but it encompasses self-respect, self-compassion, and treating yourself.
Treating yourself with care means acknowledging the moments (or days) when you are having a tough time and treating yourself with compassion. Self-compassion is fundamental to self-kindness. It is a process in which you accept the situation you find yourself in without punishing yourself and figuring out what you need at that moment. Self-compassion is an action that must happen genuinely. It is something that you slowly cultivate by learning to feel grateful for the things that you have, both good and bad.
Another aspect of being gentle with yourself may sound inconsistent because being gentle with yourself may force you to do things out of your comfort zone. Change and challenges can be frightening, which is why we so often put off projects and promises we’ve made to ourselves. So, what does this have to do with being kind to yourself? Well, keeping your promises and following through with what you have proposed to do is a sign of self-respect. By following through with your promises, you are validating your words.
Lastly, reward yourself. I’m in no way vouching for retail therapy or excessive consumerism, but treat yourself. If you have been eyeing a new computer or dress, but have put off buying, do it. If it is expensive, save up for it. Don’t treat yourself as a reward for something you did. Do it because it brings you joy.
- Become your own best friend.
Friendships are a gift. We learn so much about ourselves and others through friendships. But, the best friendship you can cultivate is one with yourself. We spend so much time building relationships with others that we ignore our constant companions– ourselves.
One way to become your own best friend is to spend time with yourself. Spend some time reflecting on your needs and your dreams and relearning your interests.
- Be your inner advocate.
I’m sure you have heard of the inner critic. It’s that cynical voice in your head that jumps to conclusions and judges you harshly. Whether you have a name for that voice in your head or not, listening to it eventually robs your joy. It makes you feel less than and keeps you from enjoying life.
To fight your inner critic, create your inner advocate. Think of it as your powerful legal team. Your advocate defends you. While your inner critic tries to attack you with scorn, your inner advocate strikes back with arguments on your behalf. Your inner advocate prevents you from becoming your own worst enemy by proving your inner critic wrong.
There are many ways to be kinder to yourself– reinforcing positive self-talk, forgiving yourself, and keeping your promises–it starts by allowing yourself to feel compassion towards yourself. Tell yourself the kind of things you would like to hear from someone.
I hope these tips have been useful and that they have encouraged you to treat yourself with kindness.
Let us know in the comments below which tip you enjoyed the most.
David, S. (2020, February 21). How to be kinder to yourself. TED. https://ideas.ted.com/how-to-be-kinder-to-yourself-self-compassion/.
Fabrega, M. (2019). 17 Ways to Be Kind to Yourself. Daring to Live Fully. https://daringtolivefully.com/how-to-be-kind-to-yourself.
Mosier, L. (2015, August 27). 8 Ways to Be Kind to Yourself. Wanderlust. https://wanderlust.com/journal/8-ways-to-be-kind-to-yourself/.
Paula. (2019, July 23). 7 Ways to Be Kinder to Yourself. THIRTEEN THOUGHTS. https://www.thirteenthoughts.com/ways-to-be-kinder-to-yourself/.
Pogosyan, M. (2018, February 2). Be Kind to Yourself. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-cultures/201802/be-kind-yourself.