How do you show kindness to yourself?
Are you kind to yourself?
I’ve had one of the cruelest, most critical inner voices. She’s less loud these days than she used to be, but I’ve worked hard to get to this point.
The first time I truly became fully consciously aware of her was several years ago when I started writing and submitting articles. I had my first article published here at Elephant. It did really well—surprisingly well. The whole process seemed seamless.
I got a little feedback on my second article, nothing major—and in no way was it bad—yet still, that inner voice lashed out.
I still remember how it felt to sit at my desk at work, hearing the words she hurled at me after reading the email. It almost felt as if my mind was assaulting me—as if I’d been physically punched. Who do you think you are to think you can write? You should have never tried. You’re worthless.
And so on.
I sat and I breathed as I became acquainted with her. Well, I’m not sure if I breathed much—I believe I must have been tense and rigid. But I got up, walked to the bathroom, and decided that no matter what this voice said, I would revise and send those changes in.
I’ve spent years untangling from these thoughts, words that seem to come from a space outside of me. They sound like me, but they’re cruel, unkind, and unloving. They’re not actually me.
I’ve gotten to the point in life where these moments are rare, and when they do come, a soft, warm, nurturing voice swiftly follows—you’re doing the best you can. We’re doing the best we can.
I feel that self-love, self-kindness, and self-compassion are what we most want, long for, and need.
Not everyone experiences the level of cruelty that my own inner voice has hurled upon me, and I am thankful for that—because I wish no one in the world would ever experience such a thing. Yet, so many of us are so hard on ourselves. We hold such high expectations and disallow room for learning, for experiencing, for stumbling—for the imperfect moments that lead to growth.
We need to show ourselves love, kindness, compassion, and gentleness. We need to be soft, warm, and nurturing with ourselves.
Our souls most want to be loved by us. We want our love; we want to be seen by ourselves.
We’re the only ones who can truly love and nurture ourselves in the way that a deep part of us craves, yearns for, desires—needs.
We need to love ourselves.
If we find ourselves searching, seeking for love, attention, meaning outside of ourselves, I feel, we must turn inward—it’s actually a plea from our hearts to look within.
We want our own love, our own attention, our own warm, gentle embrace. We want to be seen, and heard, and felt—by us.
We want to be given space to live and breathe and feel and be—by us.
I am kind to myself, gentle, and soft. I try to balance an unwillingness to tolerate unfortunate actions (which are often unconscious) with a deep, soothing warmth and understanding—it’s okay. I’m learning.
I allow myself to feel whatever I feel about what’s going on within and around me, which sometimes feels incredibly painful—but I always usher in warmth, compassion, and love as well.
We must all learn to be kind, gentle, soft, and loving with ourselves. It’s what we truly want and need.
A couple of weeks ago, I asked a question on our social media pages:
“How do you show yourself kindness?”
I said, “I put my hand on my chest when I feel sad, and breathe into my heart.”
Here are 30 ways Elephant readers said they show themselves kindness.
1. “Waking up much earlier than I need to so I can ease myself into the day. Rushing in the morning sets me up for stress and anxiety, so I just…don’t.” ~ Niki
2. “I rest when I feel tired. Pushing through exhaustion is a thing of the past for me.” ~ Kim
3. “Deep breathing while saying each family member’s names.” ~ Donna
4. “I let myself feel what I feel without judgment. It took me 6 years to learn that but it works wonders!” ~ Dina
5. “Lately, allowing myself to skip the dishes. Or whatever I’m really struggling to enjoy doing but is usually done daily to maintain. So really, give myself a break.” ~ Nat
6. “Spend time on God, whether praying or learning his word, make time for mental health, and read books that I enjoy.” ~ Eastlynn
7. “I put my hand on my chest, close my eyes, and pray to God to show me the way.” ~ Marta
8. “Sleep.” ~ Nitika
9. “Allow the grief its needed time. Resisting it makes it worse.” ~ Patti
10. “I make a snack and put fresh sheets on the bed.” ~ Nicole
11. “I write. There’s no predicting what will come out. I let the pen do its job. Then I feel released. Contemplative but released.” ~ Caitlin
12. “Allow ‘laziness.’ There are times when the best thing to do is nothing.” ~ Nicole
13. “I breathe, mini medtiate, knowing that in that moment, that present, I can let go of my resentments and anger, etcetera, and my existence is enough.” ~ Jacqui
14. “I pat my dogs every morning as soon as I wake up; as I’m drinking my coffee, I also lately play relaxing ambiance themes on my laptop—crackling fire in a cozy cabin, or jazz music in a cafe while raining…” ~ Sanja
15. “Internally hold my hand when feeling emotions.” ~ Sameera
16. “I soak in the tub for at least 30 minutes every day.” ~ Kevin
17. “Walk. A LOT.” ~ Barry
18. “Eat chocolate.” ~ Chiara
19. “Allow myself to be angry…best thing I ever did.” ~ Neville
20. “Music, yoga, and when I can’t sleep, I intentionally rub my feet together like I did without thought as a kid.” ~ Su
21. “I try to relieve myself of responsibilities when my plate is too full.” ~ Spencer
22. “Take myself out for coffee.” ~ Peggy
23. “Forgive the people who have hurt me terribly. That’s a heavy weight, and forgiving them is the kindest and best thing I can do for myself.” ~ Brenda
24. “I sit with elderly ones and listen to them quietly.” ~ Nalanda
25. “Dance my socks off…” ~ Masooma
26. “Wash my hair.” ~ Erin
27. “Sit and rest, take time.” ~ Midge
28. “Nap with my dog.” ~ Karen
29. “Excerise, music, watch the sunrise with coffee in hand.” ~ Sonya
30. “I put on the softest clothes I have.” ~ Laura
How do you show yourself kindness?