I saw my friend’s Facebook status and all it said was “ARRRRRGGGGHHHHH”. I gave it a sad smiley face and messaged her to find out if there was anything I could do. As she talked I realised something – her cup was empty. I (gently) pointed this out to her and said: “you need to show yourself kindness too.”
Does kindness = weakness?
Often kindness is seen as a weakness. In fact, in my #readysteadygrow video this week I talked about kindness and why it matters. One of the comments I got was that ‘showing people kindness messes with your head’. That one sentiment showed me that some people think that being kind puts you behind, allows people to take advantage of you and makes you miserable.
Reading the comment made me feel really sad but I agreed – ‘it messes with your head in a good way’ I replied. You see, for me, kindness is a strength. When you are kind you open yourself up to risk. Of course, there are some people who will (try and) take advantage of you when you demonstrate kindness but not everyone. Demonstrating kindness requires courage but it does not mean that you are a doormat. You can say no with kindness too.
It’s become really clear to me over the last 12 months that although many of us are kind, we are mostly kind to others. Great news but what happens when you deplete your own stores and forget to (or choose not to) show yourself kindness? The short answer is that you begin to resent the people around you and the kindness you give. That seems a shame to me when there is something you can do to change that.
5 reasons to show yourself kindness
As we approach Christmas, we are juggling a million to-do lists and heaping so many expectations on ourselves. We are so focused on everyone else and making it a magical time for them. Here are 5 reasons I believe it’s important to show yourself kindness (particularly at this time of year):
Improves your relationships
I have learnt the hard way that in any relationship, you need to learn to be kind and caring toward yourself. If you are kind to others but harsh and judgmental toward yourself, you are emotionally abandoning yourself, which is never a good idea. When you show kindness to yourself in a relationship you are saying to yourself and those around you ‘I matter’. An additional bonus is that you fill your cup which allows you to pour more freely into the relationship.
Kindness can increase your success
When you look back on your life, how do you want to be remembered? When I ask this question of my clients, they so often say ‘for making a difference’. In that statement, they are defining success as making a difference. Now in a coaching session, we explore what that means in terms of actions and measuring the outcome in some way. Many people want to be remembered for being kind – and through acts of kindness we can have an impact and make a difference to the world around us.
You understand your self-worth
Did you know that you have a superpower? It is the power that comes from truly valuing oneself. Self-worth is the result of knowing and valuing your intrinsic qualities — your caring and compassion, your unique forms of intelligence, your unique forms of creativity. It is the result of knowing that you are a good person — that you are worth loving, even in the face of others’ unloving, rejecting behaviour.
Self-kindness makes you stronger
Being kind to yourself, with both your thoughts and actions, will leave you feeling motivated and recharged to reach your goals. This strength gives us the courage to take kind actions on our own behalf and on behalf of others. This includes not allowing others’ beliefs and behaviours to define our worth. Being kind to oneself fills us with love and joy and removes those anxious, empty feelings. In short, it makes us more resilient. (More on that in 2018!)
Kindness is contagious
Kindness is contagious, even when it is self-kindness. The kinder you are to yourself, the kinder you’ll be to those around you, and the more likely you are to inspire others to be kind. You and everyone else around you will have a lot more fun too. Bonus.
So in the run-up to Christmas what can you do?
So we are all agreed that showing yourself kindness is a good plan. Right?! Now, this is a busy time of year and it can seem like another thing to do. Here are 12 easy things you can do to show yourself kindness in the last 12 days before Christmas.
- Join the advent countdown in the private discussion group
- Get a drink of water and rehydrate
- Silence your inner critic through reminding yourself of your successes this year
- Say no to three things you don’t want to do. No explanation required.
- Give someone a really big hug
- Listen to your body
- Pledge to find 3 things to be grateful for every day
- Buy yourself some flowers
- Make a date with yourself
- Stop trying to control things
- Apologise only if you have done something wrong (not for things that aren’t your fault)
- Get creative – write, draw, craft…whatever you fancy!
P.S. What happened to my friend? Those wonderful and generous Kindness Elves rustled up a little self-care package for her and hid it behind the honeysuckle.