2 Ways to Be Kind to Yourself
Many of the problems that plague us have a common origin: lack of self-love. Thanks to the world’s external pressures that we’re subject to, the demands we place on ourselves, and that sense of being lost and unsure, we can end up treating ourselves too harshly. If you want to feel better, you first need to be kind to yourself.
The concept of showing yourself compassion can be traced back to Buddhism. Loving yourself involves copying the tone and generosity that you would show a close friend, rather than the barrage of self-critiques that lead us nowhere. If we pay attention, many times we talk to ourselves as if we were our own worst enemy.
According to studies done on the subject, being kind to yourself requires developing three abilities:
- Self-love: This refers to the capability of being understanding and loving with yourself. To show self-love implies, for example, forgiving yourself when you make a mistake instead of harboring the blame.
- Shared sense of humanity: This strangely-named element is hidden, in reality, behind a very basic attitude. It requires believing that no one is perfect, and that we all have the right to get it wrong. This will help us to understand that we aren’t better or worse than anyone else.
- Mindfulness: The ability to live in the present moment helps us put our problems in perspective when they arise. In addition, it makes us more stoic, building up our patience with ourselves.
How do I develop the ability to be kind to myself?
Now that you know what self-love entails, you might be wondering how to be kind to yourself. These characteristics aren’t instilled in us at birth. You may be naturally disposed to them through a potential genetic favoring, but no more. Therefore, to be kind to yourself takes a lot of conscious effort and a healthy dose of hard work.
In this case, researchers have discovered that one of the best strategies for developing self-love is by asking yourself the right questions. Asking yourself certain questions can change your point of view and behavior. This is important when interacting with others, and fundamental when dealing with ourselves. Furthermore, you’ll find two of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself to show self-love.
1. What do I need to be okay?
This question may seem extremely simple, but most of us don’t ask ourselves this very often. In general, we’re so worried about what we “should be doing” that we forget about our own needs.
One of the distorted ideas that contributes to this is our association of egoism with something negative. If someone wants to work on their own happiness, they will quickly receive a suspicious look. Shouldn’t we be sacrificing for others? According to Aristotle, though, taking care of yourself is far from selfish. It’s necessary.
In order to help others, we must first have something to give. Think about it. Who has more potential to do good? Someone who is unhappy because they don’t take care of themselves? Or, on the contrary, someone who feels good about themselves because they know how to be kind to themselves?
2. How would I treat a loved one in this situation?
We frequently turn ourselves into our own worst enemies. No one judges us as harshly as we judge ourselves, or asks as much from us. This can lead to serious self-esteem issues. It´s impossible to achieve a level of perfection from ourselves. Imagine that you’ve just fought with your partner and they’ve piled all the blame on you. In that situation, we may say something like:
- Why am I always the one doing everything wrong?
- How could I be so insensitive?
- I’m going to end up alone again, like always.
The next time you find yourself trapped in this cycle of irrational thoughts, imagine that you’re saying them to someone very close to you. How would they feel? Would you really be helping them at all?
If the answer is no, why would you treat yourself even worse? You have to learn to be kind to yourself.
Treating yourself with compassion is a difficult ability to develop. Although being harsh on ourselves may help us make a change, taking this attitude to the extreme leads to a lot of suffering. That’s why it’s worth learning to be kind to yourself.
What’s the next step? Now that you know these two questions, take the decision to ask yourself them next time you’re judging yourself too harshly. Though it might feel strange at first, little by little you’ll see that treating yourself with love feel more natural.