Being kind to ourselves means taking time to treat ourselves with respect, compassion and care. Kindness and compassion means being sensitive to suffering of the self, and of others, and it includes a deep commitment to prevent/manage that suffering and nurture well-being (Gilbert, 2015). As an example, if a colleague gets a promotion and you did not, it would be easy to self-criticise and tell yourself “you should have done better”, or “you messed that up”. By taking a self-compassionate and kinder stance however, you might say instead: “your time will come”, or “you are feeling annoyed / angry, and that’s painful – you need to do something to care for yourself at this difficult time". Kindness which includes self-care is especially important at difficult times, but ideally, kindness also becomes a way of life.
Kindness and self-care can be a challenge for beginning practitioners incl those with busy lives. As noted by Richardson (2009) self-care takes patience, commitment and practice which includes sitting with uncomfortable feelings initially such as guilt or fear (for erroneously being judged negatively). However, self-care and kindness are not selfish; by respecting and caring for ourselves, we are more able to respect and care for others. You may even be a role model for others towards similar changes. Do get in touch to chat about further trouble-shooting ideas, and other supports, incl peer support with like-minded others via our Stress Busters courses or our meditation classes.
Mastering a more kind and compassionate way of life will mean:
Self- or other criticism is the opposite of compassion and kindness, This occurs when we accidentally allow an inner critical voice relative freedom to judge, undermine, condemn or even sabotage our efforts and activities. When this happens, moods often drop, stress or anxiety increases, and a lot of energy gets wasted. Typically however, this happens because people simply had not realised the negative consequences, or that there are better and more effective ways to manage ongoing negative, angry, anxious or worrisome thoughts.
Steps towards kindness and self-care, and a new you, can include any of the following: