Week #3 wraps up the “self” portion of the Kindness Challenge with self-acceptance.
Unfortunately, I’ve fallen behind (we’re actually in Week #5.) Luckily, Niki structures this as a “work at your own pace” challenge. She knows that life gets busy and we have to devote more time to other things. I hope to get caught up later this week.
Self-acceptance is something many people struggle with. We often feel dissatisfied in our lives, constantly questioning the choices we make or comparing ourselves to others.
It may be a negative voice from our childhoods reminding us of what we’ve done wrong. Or, the assault of advertisements for products to help us become “new and improved” with the underlying message that we’re not good enough.
Hindsight bias is an especially cruel dictator. It’s easy to see a situation more clearly once we know the actual outcome of one choice over another. Yet we criticize ourselves for not being a bit more psychic!
We’ve been groomed to feel like failures if we can’t achieve perfectionism, something that is completely unattainable. People who aspire to perfection are often hiding some type of shame and attempting to mitigate judgment from others.
But, it’s important to remember that perfectionism isn’t the same thing as striving to be our best selves. The various skills we acquire throughout life are divided into two types:
- Hard skills are easily measurable (reading, math, computer coding, etc.)
- Soft skills are harder to quantify (proper etiquette, listening, getting along with others, etc.)
Hard skills are improved upon with training. Soft skills require honest self-examination to pinpoint areas that need work. Once these are identified we must study and practice change. Sometimes, therapy is required.
It’s no wonder that self-acceptance is so hard! However, the ability to show true kindness to ourselves and others is dependent upon this first step.
As the second option of this week’s exercises, Niki suggests listing a few positive character traits and then discussing things you do that don’t fit those traits:
When it comes to patience I have plenty to offer other people. I’m able to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and quickly remind myself that no one is perfect.
But, sometimes I forget to do this for myself. When something negative happens I believe it must be my fault. I didn’t think it through enough. I should’ve known better, I could’ve prevented this, or I would’ve done better if I had tried harder.
Rather than recognizing that some things are simply out of our control, I berate myself for being human.
Likewise, I’m quick to empathize with others. I listen intently to their problem and try to offer reassurance that things will work out. I remind them of their limitations and the fact that they can’t predict ahead of time how things will go.
Regrettably, I forget to exercise this same care with myself.
I’ve gotten much better in recent years because I left a toxic relationship that reinforced negativity and feelings of incompetence. The road to recovery is ongoing. I returned to school and earned my degree while working full-time. I’ve also made some hard choices that required a lot of courage and changes that depend upon faith in me.
Today, I treat myself with more kindness and respect than ever before. Thankfully, this enables me to treat others in the same way!