I never really understood the true sense of what kindness was. I knew what kindness meant, the way to give and receive kindness. I just always thought I was kind and people where kind back to me.
Ever since I was young, I have always been an empathetic person. Kindness and empathy seemed to go hand in hand. Back then, and even still today, I feel kindness is also genuine common courtesy.
In my early teens it was like a switch I already had built-in switched on. I crossed a line and found myself becoming a people pleaser. I was blissfully unaware that developing within me was a need I had for people to like me, keep them liking me and think I was worthy. I subconsciously wanted to measure up to my preconceived idea of how I should be. I had way too many thoughts in my head that I could never find answers to or reason with, which created an unsettled mind. I was overly concerned with what people thought of me.
This subconscious, and sometimes conscious, behavior to myself become very unkind. I was hard on myself and filled with self-loathing. I spent years grappling with this in my own headspace. With no sight of seeing another view of myself, I developed an eating disorder. My mind would rant on at me and be so unkind and unfair. At this stage, my behavior changed. I became constantly unkind to myself; I gave myself little to no respect or common courtesy. I was inwardly hard and hostile which led me to become angry and resentful. There was a festering within my mind of no self-worth, no self-regard and a genuine dislike for myself.
On being admitted to a clinic for Anorexia Nervosa, I started to look deep within myself. This allowed me to see glimpses of how unkind and unforgiving I was to myself. During my stay I did a lot of soul searching and analysis of my feelings and thoughts. This also led me to discover the way I was behaving and develop a genuine purpose for myself. My focus was to reconnect and rebuild the relationship with myself, which started with being kind. Becoming kind to myself did not come easy; however, I recognized that I needed to do this to succeed in my path to recovery. For many years I worked on this. I often had to stop and remind myself to be kind; until I was at a stage where I could be at peace with being kind to myself. The stage in my recovery where I believed I was worthy of this kindness was the turning point where I started to allow myself to be kinder. The true sense of allowing it made me able to receive it. It has been 23 years since I was at the clinic and recovered from my eating disorder. The path to recovery has taught me many things – kindness and acceptance remain the key points.
Once I had managed to accept self-kindness, I was able to acknowledge how to be kind to others. I came to believe that to be truly kind to others you first need to be truly kind to yourself.