Kindness has been the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness week here in the UK.
Often when we talk about kindness we instinctively think about being kind to others, not necessarily to ourselves, and we often put ourselves much lower on the priority list, sometimes with good reason but kindness to oneself shouldn’t be overlooked.
We will never spend as much time with anyone as we spend with ourselves, we will never have as many conversations with anyone as we have internally with ourselves, so it’s a good idea to be kind to ourselves.
If you were going to take an honest, closer look at the thoughts, feelings and words you use towards yourself, would you say you are kind to yourself?
Do your daily choices make you feel good or bad about yourself?
Imagine you carry a rucksack on your back everywhere you go. Your rucksack is filled with stones of different sizes. Some might be tiny pebbles, some might be heavy stones, others are more like chunky rocks. Each one represents negative thoughts and emotions, or unhelpful beliefs about yourself, disempowering words you say to yourself regularly, and toxic or hurtful relationships that you might be in, but deep down you know you shouldn’t be.
Every “I am not … good/intelligent/pretty… enough”, “I am a failure / fraud”, “I don’t deserve this job / this opportunity”, “I’m a bad parent”, or whatever it may be is a stone in your rucksack. Some stones might be new, quite small and easy to get rid of, but others might have been with you for as long as you can remember and are the heaviest and seem impossible to remove. The longer you carry this rucksack full of metaphorical heavy stones with you, the more discomfort, pain, stress and bad moods it will cause, negatively affecting your mental health.
I encourage you to take a closer and honest look at your stones and ask yourself these simple questions:
Which one causes the most problems which you need to work on removing or breaking up first?
Which ones do you maybe need to accept and learn to love?
What do you need to change and do more or less of to be kinder to yourself?
What would help you appreciate yourself that little bit more and embrace your imperfections?
Kindness starts with us. The kinder you are to yourself, the more kindness you will have to share with others.
So be kind to yourself, not just this week, this month, but every day.