Who is the most challenging person in your life to be kind to on a regular basis?
Give that some thought for a moment. I’m not talking about that politician you just can’t stand. For most of us, political figureheads aren’t people we know personally.
Who is it that you most often lecture, berate, scold, prod, try to motivate and never really allow to rest?
Yeah. It’s you, right?
If you’re like me, you say things to yourself, in the privacy of your own mind, that you’d never say to another being. I’ve gotten much better about this over the years; but some of our oldest patterns run extremely deep. That mean voice still pops up from time to time.
It’s when you’re at your most stressed that you’re most likely to snap at yourself. You know, in the lead-up to the winter holidays, for example…
Here are 5 tips for treating yourself with more kindness – starting now:
1. Lower your daily expectations
Most of us have a to-do list that defies the logic of time and space. We want ourselves to get WAY more done in a day than is possible; so we end up consistently feeling like we’re “failing.”
Pare it down. Pick just 1 to 3 things to accomplish each day, beyond the routine work-eat-housework tasks of life. Keep it simple.
If it helps, estimate in advance how much time the task will take. Sometimes we make mountains out of molehills, and that phone call we’ve been avoiding will only cost us 5 minutes.
Other times, we feel like we should be able to build a new website in one afternoon. Um, no. Break the tasks down and spread them out.
2. Use a mantra
Pick a positive affirmation that will help remind you of your inherent worthiness. One of my favorites is “I am a beloved child of the Universe.”
Repeat your mantra to yourself throughout the day. Make it the lock screen on your phone or write it on a post-it note at your desk. Maybe get it tattooed on your arm. Whatever works best for you in keeping it front and center.
3. Schedule your R&R
Theoretically, you have days off when you’re not working. Yes, I see those of you who parent young children snickering over there.
Why is it that our weekend to-do lists are longer than those for the weekdays? Forget about getting “caught up.” That’s not actually a thing unless you have a staff to help you.
Schedule time just for you to do things that restore your soul. For my fellow introverts this will likely involve cozy blankets, pets and books, or Netflix. For the extroverts, fun dinner parties and gatherings of friends where you don’t have to be the hostess could be just the thing.
Nothing about this needs to be productive. Pick your pleasure and make it a priority. Every week.
4. Get more – or better – sleep
When you’re tired you’re more likely to be snippy with yourself. You’ll also be moving more slowly so you’ll feel like you’re falling behind.
Make your nightly rest a priority. Start winding down an hour before you’d like to actually be asleep. Shut off the screens, dim the lights, soothe yourself with calming music or essential oils. Ease into your sleep time mindfully.
I know, I know – not everyone likes to meditate. If you’re someone who can’t seem to be still and let go of their thoughts, try guided meditations. Yes, they totally “count.” The facilitator’s voice will provide a focus for your busy mind and you’ll still gain all the benefits.
Meditation expands the space between the chattery (and often mean) “monkey mind” and the observer self. Over time, you’ll begin to notice when you’re not treating yourself kindly and reign those thoughts back in.
Being kind to yourself is of vital importance. The energy that we bring to the world emanates from within. If you’re treating yourself with cruelty on a regular basis, it will ripple outward in some way.
Kindness begins at home, in your own mind and heart. Practice compassion for yourself. You deserve it.