How kind are you? I don’t mean to other people—I mean to yourself. Is being kind to yourself a struggle? Self-criticism comes easily to me. Usually, I do it by beating myself up for past mistakes. Sometimes I do it over big life events, but most often, it’s over tiny daily things that I see as missteps. It can be as simple as a meal that didn’t turn out well, a misunderstanding in a conversation, or purchasing something I didn’t really need or couldn’t afford.
The problem with that negative self-talk is that it’s easy to believe it. After all, it comes from a trusted source: yourself! But you don’t have to live with hurtful words on repeat. There is so much freedom and joy in showing yourself a little grace. Here are 3 valuable lessons I’ve learned about being kind to yourself. Try them. I think you’ll like this new, kinder “you.”
1. Forgive yourself for past mistakes.
I’ve not always been happy with my earlier self, which isn’t really fair to her; she was doing the best she knew to do at the time. I shouldn’t really fault her for not knowing what I know now. If she had known those things, she would have made different choices. Part of accepting yourself is forgiving yourself for past mistakes, realizing you have gained valuable information from them.
Self-forgiveness is acknowledging the anger you feel for yourself and then deciding to release it by saying it out loud: “I forgive myself for…” It’s not the easiest thing to do but holding onto self-resentment keeps you stuck in the past and unable to see yourself as a new person making different decisions moving forward. Remind yourself that your heart has always wanted to do things well and to live generously toward others.
Remind yourself that your heart has always wanted to do things well and to live generously toward others.
2. Encourage yourself instead of berating yourself.
Looking at ourselves with a critical eye and having impossibly high standards feels like a good way to motivate us to change, but it usually has the opposite effect. Just like a victim loses his or her self-worth at the words and actions of an abuser, we become less confident, ashamed, and feel insignificant when we rehearse our faults and failures. We are acting like an abuser to ourselves when we are hard on ourselves. Choose today to stop abusing yourself, because when a woman feels encouraged, championed, and celebrated, she wants to keep rising and longs to do even more.
I have found that when I believe in myself, I will get to the other side of whatever obstacle I’m facing. I’m more amazing than I realize, and people appreciate me more than I comprehend. Some of the ways I’ve learned to encourage myself are by posting motivating quotes on the bathroom mirror, keeping a music playlist of motivating songs, and looking at myself in the mirror to tell myself all the things I appreciate about myself. I refuse to let self-criticism have a voice with me.
3. Recognize that you have gotten yourself to where you are today.
Your process has given you much-needed tools for the next season of your life. And your future self has most likely already conquered the challenges you’re facing now. She’s already gotten to the other side of those obstacles. Whether I succeed or fail, if I am kind to myself and refuse to quit, I will experience victory.
I will overcome my fear, I will find the confident woman within, and I will have discovered hidden strengths I didn’t know I had. So I will choose to be kind to myself and have compassion for where I’ve been and what I’ve been through. I will forgive myself for things I wish I had done differently. My future self is waiting for me—and I can’t wait to meet her!
How have you been unkind to yourself in the past? And how have you learned to forgive yourself?