How to be kind to yourself? A counsellor tells you about it

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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We often wonder why the world is harsh on us, but we should first think if we are kind to ourselves! An expert talks about self-kindness.

Being kind is important – to the world and to yourself.

Let’s say your friend has given their first attempt for a competitive exam. They are excited and awaiting their results, but unfortunately, they have failed. Their teacher comes in and screams at them saying; “You’re going nowhere in life, you studied so much and yet failed, you’re just a loser,
drop out.”

Alternatively, there is another teacher who walks in and tells them; “Hey that’s okay, if you look at your answers you can see that your methodology is right. You just need to practice more, we can do it in class, you’ve worked so hard on this, I’m sure you’ll pass next time!”

Which teacher do you think will enable positive change in the student?

Which teacher are you to yourself when you make a mistake? How many of us beat ourselves down for our mistakes and actions? We get embarrassed easily and we stop trying altogether! “What if we fail? What will others think of us?” Our programmed reaction to not satisfying our expectations is to blame ourselves and get critical about our actions.

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It’s NOT selfish to think about your own needs. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

We hold on to situations, without forgiving ourselves, destroying our peace of mind and sleep. Do we really deserve the punishment we give ourselves – reliving our negative emotions every day?

What does it mean to be kind?

Being kind to yourself means being able to look at your reflection in the mirror and saying the words “I love you” while actually meaning it. Many of us criticize our reflection, break down and can’t utter the words to ourselves.

What do we do then? The empathy you show others, should be shown to yourself as well. But in reality, we find flaws, compare ourselves to others and we hold our actions high as our expectations to always be right and perfect.

Physically, if we are asked to do an activity that we know will be detrimental to our health, we wouldn’t do it. So why is it that mentally we go through that pain and suffering knowing very well how harmful it is to us?

How to be more kind towards ourselves?

1. We can start by trying to track our thoughts and writing them on a piece of paper or tag them as and when they come. You can segregate them according to where they are stemming from – comparison, jealousy, control, childhood pain, etc.

2. Simply tag them and let them go, don’t give in to thinking about it which may cause you to spiral.

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Practice self-love, always! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Another activity you can do is to write what you’re grateful for every day! It can be about what you saw, small things you appreciate or even specifically about work, people in your life, about yourself or all of them!

4. You can supplement these, by listening to guided meditation of self-love and self-forgiveness.

The last word

To be kind to yourself is to forgive yourself for all your mistakes, to understand you only have this one body and mind for your entire life, and to treat it with respect and utmost love, to put yourself first, knowing when you need a break and taking one without guilt.

It is easy to understand what the word kind means to you. Simply, imagine a world where everyone is kind to each other. What would they do and how would you treat them? List them out and one by one, do them for yourself.

You deserve the kindness you show others. You deserve the kindness you crave!

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