The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation offers this bit of useful wisdom: “Kindness is free to give, but priceless to receive.” This is something to be mindful of when you have an opportunity to be kind to others. However, it’s equally true when you can benefit from your own kindness. Learning how to be kind to yourself is actually a life skill, and you’re never too old to improve your abilities.
Practicing How to Be Kind to Yourself
It’s a quirky twist of human nature that people are often far harder on themselves than they would ever be on someone else. Harvard Business Review offers theories that this may be a mistaken belief that self-criticism can serve as a form of motivation or that tougher standards can form a defense against feelings of doubt, anxiety, or frustration. Instead, the harsh self-criticism generally leaves you feeling battered and unhappy. Experimenting with how to be kind to yourself can make things much more pleasant. There are a number of tricks you can try.
Reframe Your Inner Critic
No one deserves cruelty. When your inner critic strikes, pause. Before you let that voice in your head influence you, ask yourself if you would say that to anyone else. If the answer is no, take the time to reframe the comment into something that you could say to someone you care about before you even consider taking it to heart yourself.
Find Ways to Destress
Being stressed is often a major source of meanness and incivility. Take a few minutes each day to take care of yourself and destress so that it’s easier to be kind. Read a book. Meditate. Go for a walk. Make a quick sketch. Turn on the radio, sing along, and dance. Call an old friend you haven’t heard from in a while. Taking some time to unwind will allow you to feel more positive and let negative things go more easily.
Cherish Your Sense of Humor
Laughter is a wonderful healer. It brightens your mood and makes it easy to see the positive in a situation. Nourish your sense of humor, and surround yourself with people who like to laugh with you. That way, when stumbles do occur, you’ll have people who are eager to help you up, brush you off, and urge you to continue along in a positive manner.
Take Care of Yourself
Kindness is a form of caring. To be kind to yourself, take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. Make an effort to eat properly, be active, get enough sleep, and see your health care team as needed.
Stay Socially Active
Social connections are invaluable. Make time to connect with friends. If you’re not able to meet up with people in person, reach out via the telephone or social media. If your friends are busy, attend an event, volunteer, take a class, or attend a lecture about a topic that you find interesting. There are plenty of opportunities to engage with other people in your community.
See a Therapist
Is your inner critic very nasty or persistent? Do you feel like you are unworthy of kindness? Sometimes, you need a helping hand. This can be especially true for people who are struggling with a lifetime of established habits, a medical condition like depression or anxiety, or other issues. A therapist can help you set goals and develop strategies for reaching them. They may also be able to provide you with various tips and tools you can use along the way.
When things go wrong, do you blame yourself? Do you focus on what you should have done differently to get a better outcome? While it’s okay to review a situation and learn from it so that you can get better results in the future, it’s important that you don’t accept undeserved guilt. Look at the situation calmly. If you wouldn’t blame someone else who was in the same situation, forgive yourself.