It’s a common misconception that being kind to yourself is well, a little self-indulgent and ridiculous but it’s quite the opposite when you think about it, the kinder you are to yourself, the more accepting you are of you, the more energy and time you have for others and the happier yourr life can be.
This doesn’t mean you don’t acknowledge your mistakes (we’re human, we all make them), say sorry or grow. That will never stop (hopefully). It just means you will start treating yourself as you would your best friend, with compassion and love.
Here are my tips, things that have helped me to be kinder to myself and others:
1. Fake it until you feel it
This one is important because the negative voices in your head (we all have them) need to be beaten down by positivity. It’s no easy thing but the more you accept that feelings, even ones you’d rather not have (lacking confidence for example) are to be normal, common, OK, you stop fearing them and can channel them positively.
So for example you envy your colleague and want to do what they do? That’s OK, envy is NORMAL just try not to let it progress into jealousy. If it does, accept the feeling but change it. Let the success of others empower and inspire you. I promise you, the more you practice this, the easier it will become and you will feel stronger and more able than ever.
My Mum always instilled in my brother and I these wise words which impacted our lives: ‘There will always be people smarter, more attractive, richer and more successful than you and that’s OK, just be you and the best you that you can be’.
2. Say Yes
Open your mind to new possibilities and adventures by taking on challenges you ordinarily wouldn’t. It’s exciting to take life by the horns and ‘just go for it’ whether that’s changing your job or life plan.
Life plans are silly anyway, life throws curve balls at you and no one can predict what they’ll be doing down the line. I never thought I’d change careers when I was a filmmaker but here I am as a blogger, loving what I do.
Have fun, push yourself, be stimulated, feel fulfilled- life is for living.
3. Say No
I know, I know I just told you to say ‘Yes’ more but saying ‘No’ too is also important for good health and sanity. Saying no is no bad thing believe me, so change that misconception right now. In fact others will appreciate your honesty and know where they stand.
Be kind in how you handle things (manners cost nothing), ‘I’d love to make that lunch, read your script, look after your dog but I can’t because…’ – we all stretch ourselves too much and need time out, for ourselves, our family, just to ‘be’, so make sure you do.
Of course, please do make time to help others though, just ensure you can manage what you take on.
People make mistakes. You make mistakes. Try and learn from those mistakes but do try to always forgive (and that means yourself too) and let go.
When people upset you, revenge is pointless, unnecessary, and brings you down to the level of those upsetting you. Find a way to resolve or more on. Letting friendships go that don’t work for whatever reason, leave you open to say yes to new friendships.
They free up time and energy that others might be draining from you.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t discuss issues with those you care about but do try and do so calmly and where possible see the other point of view too. Most people are not out to ‘get you’ and are more worried about their own lives to be overly-concerned with yours.
If you can’t get over an argument or sort a problem out, move forward with your life. But I mean, really move on. Don’t dwell, learn lessons, life is short so fill it with those who are worth having around and make you feel good.
5. Accept Who You Are and Don’t Go Changing
People sometimes like to try and change others, they come to your friendship or relationship with baggage of their own and might want you to meet their expectations to make them feel more comfortable. No. It’s important to know who you are and not let anyone try and manipulate or change your character, the essence of who you are. If they don’t understand or like you, they’re not for you.
Not everyone will like you nor will you like everyone either. Accept this.
Know your strengths, work on your weaknesses, big yourself up but don’t believe your own hype to the extent you don’t recognise who you are. Keep track of what matters and you’ll feel good in your own skin.
I’ve always been loud, talkative, academic and creative. That’s me. At high school in particular, my teachers always tried to mould me into a quiet version of myself. It never worked and in the end, I rebelled.
Instead of harnessing my personality, encouraging me to do more drama for example at school (something I loved) or channel all my energy into sport, they tried to belittle and change me. I forgive them though-See no 4 (I even returned to judge a Drama Awards at my former school last year).
It’s important to add, their proposed personality overhaul didn’t work and my voice and personality has become a huge part of who I am in life and in my career.
Look, I understand school is about control to some extent and conformity but the greatest of teachers allow children to be themselves, they nurture and support and help create kids who thrive into successful adults.
Luckily my 6th form did just that as did my time at University and I ended up getting my MA at 21. My parents nor I, let the school destroy who I was or who I would become.
An important lesson.
There’s so much more I’d like to share, I would also point out that being kind to yourself means eating well, exercising when you can, giving yourself the best chance at feeling good.
It also means taking risks, making change happen for yourself. You don’t like your job? Work at ways to do what you love, return to studying (even part time), consider a move, working for yourself.
Be the hero in your own story and don’t blame others or let them hold you back. Small steps create HUGE change.
You have the control to be who you want to be and it can all start from being kinder to yourself.
I’m a work in progress myself but one thing I know I love, is helping others and I truly hope this has helped you.