5 Tricks for Treating Yourself More Kindly
Why is it so tricky to be kind to ourselves? I see it all the time, especially with women—we hold ourselves to impossible standards while cutting others slack, we carry around guilt and self-criticisms, and we fail to give ourselves the breaks we desperately need.
Between my clients, women’s support group members, friends, and, yes, myself, I am constantly surprised by just how hard it can be for we women to show ourselves a little love. We feel unworthy of love or we simply feel “selfish” if we’re not consistently loving others and forsaking ourselves. Believe me, I am a fan of sacrifice, and I’m all for loving others—it’s what gives life meaning, purpose, and yes, even joy. BUT—it’s hard to fully love others when we fail to love ourselves. In fact, receiving love (from ourselves & others) is the KEY to giving love. We have to be full before our love can overflow.
The Trickiness of Self-Love
It would be easy for me to therefore say, “Go Love Yourself,” and leave it at that. But I know from experience that in most cases it’s just not so simple. In fact, for many of us, knowing how to simply “love ourselves” can feel downright tricky.
So, instead, I ask you to repeat after me: “Today I will be a little bit kinder to myself.” Kindness is the seed of love. When we are kind–to others and to ourselves–we plant, grow, and eventually reap the love we were once lacking. We don’t need to perform incredible acts or make sudden, massive changes in order to increase in self-love. As Mother Theresa wisely spoke, “We can do no great things. Only small things with great love.”
Today let’s choose to get around the “trickiness” of self-love by treating ourselves with a little more kindness. We’re starting small, but with time and persistence, the tiny “treats” we give ourselves will plant in us even greater love–not only for ourselves, but for one and all.
Learn Self-Love with “5 Tricks for Treating Yourself More Kindly”
1) Take care of your physical body. Sleep, nutrition, and exercise are crucial to our physical well-being. And physical well-being is at the core of the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being that helps us feel love. Start with one area and make a small improvement: Start taking those vitamins you know you need; Go for a walk today; Take a “power nap,” or get to bed earlier. Eventually, your body will become stronger and you will feel healthier and more confident; and you’ll know it’s all because you were a little bit kinder to yourself. (Click for Strategies to Improve Sleep).
2) Ask “Is this the loving decision for me?” Too many of us commit to things we don’t want to do and that aren’t even good for us. Too much of anything is still too much! Many of us think, however, that we are not being kind to “others” if we say no or choose another way. Instead of seeking to know if you are doing the “right” thing or the “nice” thing, ask if you’re doing the loving thing. Sometimes the loving thing requires more discipline; sometimes it allows for more flexibility or relaxation. But I can tell one thing for sure: the loving thing for YOU will almost always also be the loving thing for those you love.
3) Acknowledge your strengths and your weaknesses. We all have things at which we’re better and worse than others. But most of us shun the “good” or the “bad” things about us, wanting to feel neither our weakness nor our power. Instead, start by acknowledging those things that are weaknesses and those things that are strengths. Today, when you see a weakness, label it just that: “This is my weakness.” And when you notice a strength, remind yourself, “This is my strength.” Being able to admit something like, “I know I’m not so great at listening,” allows us to work on ourselves and improve. And being able to embrace, “Yes, I am a very compassionate person,” allows us to use our talents to serve and love others even more. Acknowledging is the first step to accepting all of who we are. And accepting who we are is the key to loving who we are.
4) Speak kindly to yourself. Pay attention to what you say to yourself throughout the day. When you hear yourself criticize, belittle, or otherwise bring yourself down, stop right then and there and make a small correction. Imagine if you heard your child saying those kinds of things to herself, then correct yourself just as you would your child. It doesn’t have to be any grand gesture; it just needs to be a little more truthful. Instead of “I always fail!” change it to, “I feel like a failure right now, but I’m working on it.” You don’t have to lie to yourself or fill your mind with sugary affirmations, but a little self-honesty goes a long way toward increasing self-love. (Click for more help on Thought Management).
5) Let down your walls and let the love in. This photo (at the top and left), is from Valentine’s Day this year. A snowy morning, school was delayed, impacting my day in a major way, and putting me in a cold and grumpy mood. When I finally went out to start driving kids, I found that my husband had not only plowed the entire drive, but he’d left this heart for me, which not only melted as the day grew warmer but melted my cold heart too. These small acts of kindness and love can make a big impact if we will just let them into our hearts. Practice receiving a compliment with a simple, “Thank you.” When others ask if they can help or serve you, say “Yes, that would be wonderful.” Even returning a smile from a stranger can help the walls come down and the love begin to enter our hearts. And listen: if you think no one loves you, you’re wrong. Look around you. Seek to open up a little bit more each day and let the kindness of others plant the seeds of love in your heart. It’s one of the kindest things you can do for yourself.
How do you feel about the “trickiness” of self-love? How do you “treat” yourself with greater kindness? What are your blocks to loving yourself? What are your successes? We need each other on this one, so leave us a comment below and start the conversation!