Yesterday was World Kindness Day, a day to be kind to others and to perform random acts of kindness. Kindness is incredibly important. And we should absolutely strive, each and every day, to be kinder individuals. It’s actually proven to be good for our own health as well. It seems like a no brainer, right? Everyone benefits from kindness.
Related: 20+ Quotes About Kindness
This important discussion about kindness got me thinking: when was the last time I was kind to myself? Well, this thought process was less of a no brainer and not as clearcut.
I’m sure the majority of us would agree that kindness to others is crucial, but I’m also sure that many of us would place less value on being kind to ourselves. We struggle with how to build self-compassion.
Let’s break this down a bit.
What does it mean to be kind?
Just a quick search for the definition on google will give you the following:
- of a good or benevolent nature or disposition
- a kind and loving person
- considerate, or helpful; humane
- loving; affectionate
And check out some of its synonyms:
- all heart
- heart in right place
Let’s do a quick little exercise.
Take out a pen and piece of paper, or pull up the notepad on your desktop, and jot down all of the synonyms from the list above that you would describe yourself being to others.
Okay. Now, jot down all the synonyms you would describe yourself being to yourself. Please let me know in the comments what you found!
Here’s what I found.
I can look at this list and easily check off the times I’ve tried to be all of those things to other people. But, to myself? Not so easy.
I, like many of us, struggle with self-hate.
There was a time where I couldn’t even bear to look at my own reflection. I felt completely unworthy, had zero confidence, and felt stuck. And, oh boy, was I mean to myself! I’m talking straight-up evil!
But, my self-hate slowly started to turn into self-love. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my off days. I consider myself to be on a lifelong journey of self-acceptance, after all. But, I can now look at my reflection and think, “I kinda like her” or “she’s not so bad.” And every step of progress, even the tiniest baby step, counts and can be life-changing.
I started this blog with three goals.
I wanted to learn how to love myself. I wanted to learn how to love my life. And I hoped to help my readers out in the process.
I share my stories in hopes of helping or inspiring my readers who are going through something similar. Or to simply let you know you are not alone. And you will pull through. And I understand you. And I believe in you. And I care about you.
Today, I wanted to share 4 ways that helped me build self-compassion.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this blog is written from personal and lived experience. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional mental health services, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health or mental health, you should always consult with a health-care professional.
# 1 – I started to do regular check-ins with myself and to reflect
At the peak of my self-hate, I didn’t know anything about myself. I mean, I THOUGHT I did, but I didn’t really.
For instance, I THOUGHT I was unintelligent. I THOUGHT I was unsuccessful. I THOUGHT I was unlovable.
But, through checking in with myself and consistent reflection, I started to learn more about who I really was.
This is how the check-ins and reflection would go.
At the end of my day (which, at the time, seemed like bad days to me 90% of the time!), I would do the following: I would divide a piece of paper into 2 columns. On one side, I would write down all of the negative parts of my day, then all of the positive parts of my day. On the other side, I would write down why they were either negative or positive.
In the beginning, my list was covered in negative. I could barely think of one good thing. And all my reasoning for the negative was a result of me and some reason why I was a loser or inadequate, or something else unreasonable.
Trust me, doing this daily was a pain in the butt. Butt (see what I did there! 🙂 ), I kept going. I did this for about a month.
This is what eventually started to happen:
My positives started to increase, my negatives started to decrease, and my reasoning started to get less hateful and personal and more rational. I started to use kinder words when describing myself and my feelings. And my bad days started to decrease. I was slowly starting to build self-compassion.
FYI – I still do this check-in and reflection at the end of my day when I’ve had a particularly tough day, and it helps me put things into a healthier, more loving perspective, each time.
# 2 – I worked on my negative self-talk
Another thing that the check-ins and reflection helped me with was my self-talk. Through them, I began to recognize how vile my self-talk was. I was horrible to myself!
And the more I learned about it, the better I got at challenging and eventually replacing it.
I challenged my self-talk with one teeny three-letter word, w-h-y.
This short, yet powerful, word would stop my negative thinking spiral each and every time.
This is how it went:
My thought: “I’m such a loser!”
My question: “why?”
My response: “uh…”
My thought: “I will never be successful.”
My question: “why?”
My response: “well…umm…”
“Why” forced me to take a beat. It helped me stop the vicious negativity cycle in my mind. Even it was for just a second.
Again, after doing this for about a month, I began to notice a difference. I started to recognize my negative self-talk more easily, challenge it, and to replace it with more positive, supportive statements.
If you’re looking for ways to overcome your negative self-talk, I’ve created a workbook that can help. You can learn more about my self-talk workbook here.
# 3 – I started using positive affirmations to build my self-esteem
Positive affirmations are statements that help you combat negative, self-sabotaging thoughts. When you believe in them, and repeat them on a regular basis, you begin to see positive changes in your thinking.
For one month, I used positive affirmations to build my self-love. I used about 4 – repeating one for a week at a time. And it started to help me.
I began to notice a shift in my thinking. It became less mean and destructive and more supportive and loving. This is how I began to build my self-compassion.
# 4 – I started to practice self-care
This is what I learned about being kind to myself. It’s easier to do when you’re not feeling miserable. And self-care helps you feel joy and fulfillment, you know, the OPPOSITE of misery.
When I was in my thick of self-hate, I was incredibly unhappy. I would spend most of my free time in bed. I didn’t want to face my day. It all felt useless to me. I hated myself and my life.
Side note: this actually pains me to write today. It brings me back to that human in pain, and my heart breaks for her.
But, self-care changed all that.
Self-care is defined as:
- the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health
- the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress
Off the top of their heads, most people would assume self-care is all about eating your fruits and veggies and exercising each day. These are physical types of self-care, and you can read about 6 types of self-care here! These things are absolutely important, but self-care is SO much more.
Self-care, to me, is about feeling whole. It is about feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually fulfilled. And it’s also about fun.
Before practicing self-care, I couldn’t tell you the last I had fun. Or the last time I allowed myself to do nothing for the sake of doing nothing. Or to be silly. Or the last time I allowed myself to be a human being!
And self-care can start off in the simplest form! Do you love baking? When was the last time you baked something, just because!?
Self-care, to me, meant reconnecting to my humanness.
And that’s what I started to do. I started to take time, it started off weekly, then eventually became daily, to do something that improved my wellness and increased my joy.
It went a little something like this:
Today, I’ll drink one more glass of water.
Today, I’ll start that Netflix series I’ve been dying to see.
Today, I’ll turn my phone off the second I get home.
Today, I’ll go for a walk after dinner.
It all started to make a difference. I started to feel happy again. And with happiness, I started to be kinder to myself. And this is the cycle that began for me — a loving, less vicious and less harmful one.
Regularly practicing self-care helped me build my self-compassion.