Challenge is the right word when it comes to showing ourselves kindness.
We take care to treat others with courtesy, particularly strangers. We’re taught to be polite and respectful, hoping to make a good impression on other people.
So, why is it such a challenge to be kind to ourselves?
The reason is simple: it’s because of the countless expectations and high standards that we hold ourselves to. So often we measure our self-worth with how we perform in school, work, and relationships. If we’re successful according to society’s model, then we feel worthwhile. If we fall short, we feel like a failure.
The feelings that we have towards ourselves originate in infancy. They are a result of the style of upbringing that our parents or caregivers choose. Our self-worth (or a lack thereof) continues to evolve throughout our lives, shaped by the many people who influence our development. That influence can either promote or stunt healthy growth. Even the best parents, teachers, coaches, etc. unintentionally send the wrong messages that can undermine a child’s self-esteem. Really bad parents/caretakers can do horrendous damage, through abuse and neglect.
As humans, we don’t always measure up to our self-imposed standards. When this happens we are especially critical to ourselves. If only we could exercise the same kindness that we have for others.
Think of the words and phrases you use when comforting other people during stressful times:
“Don’t worry; everything will work out.”
“I know how hard this is and I’m here for you.”
“You’re a good person and didn’t deserve to have this happen.”
“I believe in you. You’re very capable and this is only a temporary setback.”
How often do we use this kind of self-talk when dealing with our own imperfections and shortcomings?
Niki over at The Richness of a Simple Life created this Kindness Challenge. I think it’s a great idea since the world needs kinder people in it!
Charity begins at home, so Week 1 is about being kind to yourself. Because this can be hard to do, I decided to reread a book that really opened my eyes on this topic. Not only will it refresh what I learned a couple of years ago, it is definitely an act of kindness towards myself!
If you’ve ever struggled with depression, self-doubts, or low self-esteem, then you’ll want to get this book: Compassion and Self-Hate by Theodore Rubin, MD. After you’ve read it be sure to share it with others!
It will help you understand how and why humans have the capacity for this dichotomy of both self-compassion AND self-hate. It explains how those emotions are created and why we struggle with them throughout our lives.
It points out that if a person cannot be compassionate with him/herself, it will be impossible to show real compassion for others. Remember the bullies from school that now work in your place of employment? Despite all the bravado, they were taught by their parents to dislike themselves.
Children learn what they live.
The bully’s parents learned it from their parents. It’s a miserable cycle that continues. We all could afford some parenting and human psychology courses to ensure communication skills that build positive relationships and healthy people.
Niki offered some ideas for things to do throughout the Kindness Challenge. Since I love quotes, I’ve chosen the “read an inspirational quote first thing in the morning.” Here are a few I’d like to share:
Learning self-compassion will help us be kinder to others and that’s a challenge worth taking…Join us!