Being kind to ourselves

Why am I so hard on myself, do I hold myself to such ridiculously high standards that I’d never dream of applying to anyone else, and often down right mean to myself? I’ve been thinking this a lot lately and have decided that this year I am going to try to be nicer to myself. Sounds simple, but I’m sure we all know that this is easier said than done.

We live in a society that doesn’t want us to like ourselves. We’re basically brainwashed into disliking ourselves, especially as women, so we will constantly aspire to be better, and perhaps purchase the latest beauty product, for example, as we try to reach some illusive ideal. Confidence, or liking yourself, can be interpreted as vanity or arrogance, again especially in women, whereas men are more assumed to be confident and self-assured anyway. But a confident woman who likes herself? The audacity!

Sarcasm aside, this isn’t an uncommon opinion, be it conscious or unconscious, active or ingrained. To like or love yourself is a pretty radical thing in this society. As Audre Lorde said, “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

No one wants to seem self-obsessed, arrogant or vain. But there is a clear difference between these things and just being comfortable with yourself, liking things about yourself or choosing not to put yourself down. These are simply healthy feelings and I think we all want to find contentment with ourselves. But so many of us, probably most of us, myself included, do not feel like this at all.

Personally I beat myself up in my head over and over again. About silly things, major things, mistakes, deadlines, stresses, decisions, words that came out wrong, you name it. Lots of the things that I am mean to myself about I would never even begin to think about someone else. And nearly all I would actively discourage others from  worrying about so much, such as appearance. Yet I seem to ignore all these values when it comes to myself.

This self-directed negativity is unhealthy and unhelpful. It is good to have standards for yourself and to push yourself to do well, but not to the point of making your best never seem good enough or making yourself unhappy, stressed, or even unwell, which admittedly I have done in the past.

So I think it’s time we were kinder to ourselves. As a close friend was saying to me recently, “they say treat others how you would want to be treated, yet sometimes we don’t even treat ourselves as well as others.” This is exactly what I do to myself. We need to start being as kind and compassionate to ourselves as we would be to other people. This can only lead to being happier, more relaxed, less stressed, and to find more confidence in ourselves.

We all deserve care, love, kindness and compassion. I believe we are the only people who are responsible for our own happiness, and the only people who really can and should make ourselves happy. Sure, others may contribute to it, but they should not be the basis of our happiness, and we do not need to seek their validation. We have to find these things from within. And that’s why it’s so important to be kind to ourselves, and to try and practice self-love. So, this year I am going to be kinder to myself. I am worthy of care, love, kindness and compassion, and I can give myself all of these things. It’s about time I started.

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