In times like these, we need to be kind to ourselves. But we can get into all sorts of nasty and negative habits that detract from our wellbeing. And almost all of them have nothing to do with the “real world.” It all happens in the mind.
Some of us are so out of practice at being kind to ourselves that we’ve forgotten what it means. We know that kindness looks like when other people give it to us. But we don’t have a clue about how to apply it to ourselves in our own minds.
So what does being loving to yourself mean in a nutshell? Let’s take a look.
Knowing That Being Kind To Yourself Is Helpful To Others
Some people can get into the habit of dedicating their entire lives to somebody else, without it feeling like a natural or enjoyable process. You see this all the time in spouses, parents and carers. They dedicate themselves entirely to the needs of somebody else and burn out in the process.
That’s why being kind to yourself is actually a fundamentally selfless act. The more you take care of your own mind and body, the more energy you will have and the better service you will be to those around you. Self-kindness, therefore, is a necessary part of being in the community. You won’t get anywhere otherwise.
Giving Up Pride
Being proud of yourself feels like a good thing. You puff yourself up on your achievements and accomplishments.
But pride conceals something unwanted: the idea that you wouldn’t be worthy were it not for your achievements. Giving up a sense of pride, therefore, is essential. Once you eliminate it, you no longer feel like you have something you desperately need to protect. It can make your life feel tremendously happier and more enjoyable. You’re not clinging to anything.
Maintaining Your Body
So many of us go through life focusing on the here and now, and allowing our bodies to fall apart. But, again, that’s not a way of being kind to yourself. It’s like running a car for forty years and never taking it for a service.
Maintaining your body is something that erupts naturally when you allow yourself to be kind to yourself. You want to eat healthy meals and give up snacking. And you let yourself work less, perhaps giving yourself a vacation every now and then.
Maintaining your body also involves doing plenty of exercise and meditation. Without taxing the body and relaxing the mind, you will find it to be at peace.
Being always “switched on” is a part of our culture. We’re never allowed to take time out to do nothing because we feel like we must be productive.
Brands like Aspire note this. The problem is that there’s no “dead time” in the day anymore. The moment you finish work, it’s time to do chores, make food, collect the kids from school or email friends. The process never ends.
Taking downtime, though, is about consciously allowing yourself to do nothing. It’s not an indulgence but a perfectly normal part of life. You don’t have to be continuously fluttering from one thing to another like a busy bee.
Reversing The Golden Rule
The golden rule from ethics is to treat others how you’d like them to treat you. But sometimes, we can forget the flipside of this equation: treating ourselves as well as we treat other people.
We often tend to be our own worst critics. Nobody tells us the things that we think about ourselves. And it can wear us down. Living with that narrative can be quite destructive if we don’t take care.
That’s why reversing the golden rule is critical. We need to recognise that our own needs matter, and not just those of other people. And we need to have the wisdom to see that others would want that for us too. A totally selfless person causes themselves tremendous suffering.
Accepting That You Are Irreplaceable
Many people who aren’t kind to themselves see themselves as disposable. They allow all manner of destructive things in their lives because they don’t consider themselves worthy of anything better.
But the truth of the matter is that each person on this planet is irreplaceable. There’s nobody else like them. And so that means preserving your body and mind is beneficial. It’s something you’re allowed to do.
When you see yourself as disposable, the effects of that belief filter down into the rest of the body. You see the immune system losing function and all manner of nasty disease cropping up.