2020 has been a rough year for everyone. Many have lost jobs. People haven’t seen their partner in months. It’s been difficult. I’m no exception, I’ve struggled a lot this year. The biggest thing I’ve had to accept is that I’m nowhere close to the expectations I set for myself at the start of the year. I know I’m not alone in thinking this way, punishing myself for not being good enough. I lost the ability to be kind to myself.
As the year comes to an end, it’s time to make a change. Negativity has no place in 2021 for any of us, so it’s time for some good old fashioned self love. We’re not just talking affirmations in the mirror every morning. It’s going to be a lot deeper and more difficult than that. Today, I’ll be sharing 5 brutally honest ways to be kind to yourself.
Table of Contents
Looking to where you seek validation
Validation plays such an important role in our times. How so? Well, to answer that I had to answer 1 question.
Who am I doing this for?The Insignificant Soul
In every task I engaged in throughout the day, I asked myself this question. Sounds easy enough right? Actually, it was extremely difficult. See, it’s in my nature to want to help people. I’m a people pleaser. I always thought this was a good trait. I’m being helpful. Contributing to others around me. I’m such a good person. However, looking back now, I see it as my greatest flaw.
I had to sit down and reflect. Was I truly doing these acts selflessly? Did I want something in return? Surely not. I’m not that kind of person. In reality, this was purely my ego talking. It made me feel defensive when I started noticing the cracks in my personality. I talk about how the ego can be a huge negative force in our lives in this article.
Last month, I made the decision to put my ego in check. I’m human. I’m not perfect. I can be toxic. If I never find my faults, then I will never be able to grow. It was time to dive into my own traumas. Let’s get deeper. So, I went. Trying to find out why I needed to help others so badly. What I found truly horrified me.
As with most traumas, it started in childhood. This was when the people pleasing began. I searched and searched. The answer lied in how I viewed myself. As an overweight child, my self-esteem was extremely low. I never took off my shirt in public. Barely talked to the opposite sex. Had friends and family who made obnoxious comments about my appearance. Back then, I honestly believed that I had no worth. I internalized all the negativity that was thrust upon me and that became my reality.
So, how did my young self deal with all this? Well, I began to bend over backwards to help people. I started to ignore my own needs if it meant that I could be of value to someone else. My rational was that since I had no inherent value of my own, I needed to create that value by doing something for someone else. That way, they’ll appreciate me. Like me. Be friendly to me. Not make fun of me.
This happened for years, I constantly ignored my needs. In jobs. In relationships. I needed to make everyone else happy. It was non-negotiable in my head. I needed to prove my value. If I don’t, then they’d leave me. I’d be alone like I was back then. I, only recently realised the answer to the question I posed earlier.
Who was I doing it for? Everyone else but myself. I placed my validation and worth in the hands of other people. People I have no control over. This is my biggest flaw. However, now that I’ve identified and acknowledged it, I can grow. I can be better, stronger, kinder to myself. In my last post, I talked about setting boundaries for ourselves. Here is the link
This was the major step that allowed me to show myself the self-compassion I needed. I did things on my own time. I watched films I liked. Voiced my own opinions. When my boundary was in danger of being crossed, I would gracefully exit from the situation. Want me to work late on a Friday for the 4th day in a row? I can’t. I need to sleep; I’ve been feeling anxious lately and my mental health takes priority. This is the mindset I’ve adopted now. It can appear selfish, no doubt. But it’s necessary. If we want to be kind to ourselves, we must put ourselves first.
Keeping standards high sets you up to be kind to yourself.
This tip can be split into two parts. Firstly, I want to get this out there. Being kind to yourself don’t mean you get to do whatever you want without any consequences. There are many times when being kind means doing the difficult thing. Let’s go back, yet again, to my overweight days.
Remember how I felt like I had no inherent self-worth? I didn’t care about myself or my body. Eating ungodly amounts of food. Every single day. Doughnuts. Ice-cream. Biscuits. Whatever I could stuff my face with. Comfort food was what I called it. I’d eat whenever I was sad about life, which just happened to be all the time. I genuinely thought I was being kind to myself at this point in my life. But that was so far from the truth. No amount of food could fill that void inside me. The kindest thing I did for myself was the decision to start losing the weight.
I started walking everyday. It was difficult. I would fall from exhaustion. Shins filled with scraps and bruises. I’d get back up and keep going. It was awful. Anyone who says they enjoy all aspects of losing weight is lying to both you and themselves. Dripping in sweat isn’t fun. Being out of breath isn’t fun. But it is kind to my body. I was finally showing it the respect it deserved.
With each month that I got fitter, I set a new standard for myself. I’ll go on walks x3 a week. No more late-night snacks. Vegetables introduced into my diet. I hate vegetables. I made these changes and made myself accountable. It was no one’s job to be kind to me. I had to do it myself. In fact, if I can’t treat myself with respect, how can others even begin to do the same. But, in the pursuit of these goals, I fell into another trap. I began comparing myself to others, another unkind activity.
Your journey is yours alone
When you compare yourself to someone else you see on the internet. You will always be at a disadvantage. There is no way to tell what’s going on in their inner world. So why are you comparing? It ends up with you placing extraordinary expectations on yourself that you cannot reach. You haven’t spent the time, money, whatever to be at the level of whoever you’ve been trying to imitate on Instagram. Their story is theirs. Yours is yours. I talk more about the downsides of comparison to others in my post about emotional growth. Here is the link
The kind thing to do in this situation is to simply follow your path. Place all that extra attention you’ve been given them and put it back on you. That’s energy that can be used to move towards your goal. I have a challenge for you. Don’t talk about your goals to anyone. Move in silence for three months. Work for yourself and keep your eyes on your journey. I guarantee that you will see an amazing change.
Accept those compliments. Accept others being kind to you.
How many times have you been complimented only to deflect it away? You look really nice today. No, I don’t, I look like a mess. It’s something I catch myself doing all the time. I’ve never been good at accepting compliments. To be honest, it’s probably due to the fact that I never believed the nice things people said about me. This comes back to the lack of inherent self worth that had developed through my childhood. So, here’s what I want you to do. Next time someone compliments you (in a non-creepy, non-stalker kind of way), you say two words.
Thank youThe Insignificant Soul
You don’t deflect. No more minimising. Don’t look for hidden meaning behind their words. You accept it for what it is. A simple compliment. I started doing this a couple months ago. Initially, I had the fear that I’d look selfish and arrogant. Again, this was me placing more value in what others thought of me rather than how I felt. I failed multiple times, reverting to old patterns. Over time, I started feeling better about receiving compliments, and I think that it’s because I stated believing them. You look nice today. Thanks! I made the effort and I’m feeling it. Congratulations on passing the exam. Thanks! I worked extremely hard for the past few months. Stop thinking that it’s luck. It’s not. Appreciate your own efforts. It’s the ultimate way to show kindness to yourself.
Stop self-deprecating talk, it’s unkind to yourself
It’s almost a trend nowadays to engage in self-deprecating talk. People often make themselves the center of a joke, to gain favour and attention in others. It’s harmless right? Wrong. Speech is a powerful thing. It’s our main way of communicating with each other. As a result, our brains place a very high value on interpreting speech. Guess whose voice you hear the most out of everybody on the planet? That’s right, yours.
You probably don’t realise it but you are the person who you listen to the most in the world. So, every word that comes out of your mouth is precious. Don’t waste it on negativity. When you put yourself down over and over again, your brain starts to believe those words. It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. You say tell everyone you meet that you’re bad at singing. Eventually, your brain will just assume you’re terrible at it. Consequently, you won’t even attempt it anymore. Why? Because, internally you’ve built a high aversion to the act.
Being kind to yourself is a journey. With all things that are worth doing, it will take a lot of time. A bunch of trial and error. However, it’s the ultimate gift that you can give to yourself. With the year ending very soon, don’t assume that you’ve failed for any reason. Show yourself some love, compassion and start building towards a better you.
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