If you kindly take a backseat to everyone else, this article is for you!
Although self-sacrifice has its place in times of crisis, a life lived without regular regard and support for what’s best for us can lead to unfulfilled dreams, misery, and escapism through addictive behaviors. Instead of sacrificing ourself, if we foster more joy within—through kindness, we’ll not only experience the kindness, but it will also radiate onto everyone and everything in our world. In today’s article, we’ll look at ways for us to become a beacon of kindness.
Are we meanies?
If we rarely feel joyful, that’s a good sign that we may have given ourselves a heaping dose of the meanies. Joy is an essential element to our mental health and willingness to live. I’m not talking about the momentary pique of the fore-during-and-after-play of whatever worldly delicacy in which we choose to partake, but the kind of joy that stays with us indefinitely at some level, just because we exist. If we are not joyful about life, or in some way doing what we know will allow us to become more joyful, we are missing the point. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured. If our lack of kindness to ourself and others is getting in the way of our joy, it’s gotta go.
The meanest people are also mean to themself
As we take a look at the most insufferable people we know, they are undoubtedly unkind to those around them. And, should we be in this person’s wake, we may depart so quickly that we may not take time to notice how deeply unkind they also are to themself.
Something to consider
Do we believe that we are worthy of receiving kindness? The more we can forgive ourself for the past, the more worthy we will feel. And when we feel worthy, we will be willing to allow ourself to receive kindness. Said differently, our life will be filled with kindness when we believe we deserve it. If we’ve done things that we knew were wrong, judged ourself, and now believe that we don’t deserve kindness, we might consider reading a previous article about forgiving ourself.
Kindness dissolves addiction
When we’re super-kind to ourself, and surround ourself with others who treat us the same, we no longer need to bury ourself in alcohol, gambling, drugs, affairs, anger, criticism, and other self-abuse. Kindness is a very powerful agent of healing and transformation.
Be nice, I mean it!
Kindness needs to go both ways—to everyone else and also to ourself. Fundamentally, all of life is equally important. For example, if we have five children, is one less valuable than another? No. We may like one more than the other, but that doesn’t diminish the value of the other. Likewise, life gave birth to all of us and we are all equally important. That means that we need to be as kind to ourself as we are to our favorite others. And if we believe in God, then we need to be as kind to ourself, and others, as we would be to God, since God is within us. As we do onto all, we do onto God. (And we are included in that “all.”)
Are we kind enough to say no to what we don’t want, or what isn’t best for us?
When we surround ourself with what we don’t want, we may blame people, places and things around us for being unkind, and blame them for our suffering. However, are we being unkind to ourself by staying in that situation?
Martyrdom behooves no one
Historically, a martyr was someone who chose to sacrifice their life or face pain and suffering instead of giving up something they hold sacred. Today, however, a martyr is sometimes described as someone who seems to always be suffering in one way or another. Are we one of those “someones”? Have we allowed ourself to suffer a life without kindness from ourself? As Abraham, a Hebrew patriarch revered within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam said, “You cannot get sick enough to help sick people get well, and you cannot get poor enough to help the poor become prosperous.” And, I’ll add, we can’t suffer enough to make someone else feel better. When we allow ourself to suffer, we just add more suffering to the world. If we suffer joyfully, that’s one thing, but if we’re suffering our own suffering, we’re just adding more suffering into the world.
My personal experience
Like many of us, I’ve been mean to myself without even recognizing it. I learned that I can only be as kind to others as I know how to be to myself. It wasn’t until I realized that I was never going to enjoy more free time, a more physically fit body, and time to do the things that I love to do, unless I changed. I had to learn to be so kind to myself that I made time for those things. I quit work earlier, I worked out more often and in ways that I enjoy, and set aside time to do things “just for fun.” These are just my examples, and may only apply to me. Yet, most of us can probably think of at least one area of our life where we could be kinder to ourself.
My experience mentoring others in kindness
In mentoring people to be empowered, I’ve observed that people have the ability to kick their dead-end habits to the curb as they learn to be truly kind to themself. As we come to understand that addiction and destructive behaviors stem from a lack of inner loving-kindness, it’s awesome to watch as clients apply kindness to themself, and create a constructive, kind, new reality. I’ve watched clients apply kindness to themselves, and radically improve their state of mind and life. And when they were more joyful, the people in their presence could experience their joy as well!
What does kindness to ourself look like?
Let’s begin by thinking about the kindest we have ever been to someone else—possibly a pet, family member or lover. Maybe we installed a cat door because we knew that kitty liked the outdoors. Maybe we took mom to dinner at her favorite restaurant because she loved a good meal. Maybe we gave our lover our complete attention and did whatever we could to fulfill his or her wants. Now, how can we treat ourselves more like this—like someone we love, who is worthy of kindness and care? If we’re ready to start being kinder to ourself, here are a few questions to encourage us!
Question #1: What did I love to do as a kid that I don’t do much (or any of) now?
Whatever it may be, schedule a non-cancellable date with yourself to do this. I guarantee that as soon as you schedule it, you will feel better. If you feel guilty or have a hard time allowing yourself to receive this level of kindness, feel free to read our previous article about how to receive more of life’s gifts.
Question #2: What do I dream of doing or would love to do?
Regardless of the reason why we “didn’t do” that dream yet, let’s leave the past in the past. So what if we didn’t start the dream ten years ago when we wished we did? What one small step can we take towards our dream today? If we’ve always wanted to ballroom dance, can we sign up for a group class once a week? Can we start watching videos on different dance moves? Can we buy a pair of dance shoes and practice basic steps at home? Can we buy a dress or shirt that we imagine how much fun it’d be to wear it while dancing? As Nike promotes, “Just do it.”
Question #3: How CAN I be kinder to myself?
Instead of thinking of all the reasons we CAN’T be kinder—like “I don’t have time,” “the kids’ needs are more important than mine,” and “I have to work,” we can ask ourself this question regularly: “How CAN I be kinder to myself?” If we ask ourself this question at every turn … when we’re looking at a restaurant menu, standing in line at a checkout, looking online, watching TV, deciding what to wear, eat, think, say to ourself (and others), and what we’ll do tonight … we can start making decisions that are kinder and more considerate of our own feelings and needs—not just everybody else’s.
We can empower ourself with kindness!
I hope these questions, and answers ignite extra warmth and caring within our hearts and minds. And I hope that each of us continues to grow in knowing our worthiness to receive more of our own kindness. Because every kind thought and action we give to ourself, helps us feel better and makes the world a better place.