There are several reasons why we all struggle to be kinder to ourselves, here are some things to consider when thinking about what creates those barriers to being kinder to ourselves; culture, learned behaviours, habits, lack of self compassion, self sabotage, and sometimes it could come down to not really paying attention to how we treat ourselves. For everyone it is different, we all need the time and space to realise the ways we could be kinder to ourselves.
This post was influenced by the questions I frequently ask myself when I am not in the best of places, like, why is this happening? what is this feeling? am I going crazy? You may have asked yourself one or two or all of these questions. The past 12 months has been a lot, but you really don’t need me to tell you that so all of these questions, emotions, worries and feelings are pretty much expected, that however doesn’t mean it’s easier to manage.
We will get into some of the reason why we are not as kind to ourselves as we could be especially during difficult times. I hope this post helps us to be more mindful of the way we speak to ourselves and also how we treat ourselves. because we do better when we know better. Knowing is the first part so hopefully when you have finished reading this post you will have a better idea of what you can practically do to be kinder to yourself.
Why Are We Not Kinder To Ourselves?
As mentioned before there are several reason why we struggle to be kinder to ourselves, here are just a few reasons that come to mind;
Self compassion is something I have been intentionally practicing over the past few months as it is something that has to be intentional. We may know how to practice compassion for others, but when it comes to practicing compassion for ourselves and for our own benefit, it feels like you are trying to learn something new.
You may notice all of the rules, terms and conditions you have put into place to stop yourself from treating yourself with kindness. Those rules, terms and conditions can look like; believing struggle is something you’re deserving of because of past mistakes.
Sometimes we can internalise what others say, think or how others may feel about us and that can lead us to believe that we are not deserving of kindness. This can make it difficult to forgive yourself for any mistakes you make, or you don’t give yourself the same grace you afford others.
If we expect or demand ourselves to work and act like others self comparison can also make it difficult for us to be kind to ourselves. By holding others to a higher standard than yourself, you don’t allow yourself the space to be imperfect.
We don’t always give ourselves enough time to manage everything, we often measure our time by everyone else’s standards, or we just don’t carve out the time to manage everything. Do we actually know how much time we need to manage and adapt to change?. If it was 6 weeks or 6 months, would we give ourselves that time? Also what does it even look like to give ourselves all the time we need to process, manage, adapt etc?
Overcomplicating things also makes it difficult to be kind to ourselves, something we think we need a certain person, maybe a particular product or service to practice kindness to self but sometimes that is in our own hands like staying on top of our needs.
How To Be Kinder To Yourself
Kindness to self will look different for everyone as all of our needs are different, the areas in our lives that need more attention are different and our experiences are different. Here are a few ways you can be kinder to yourself:
Prioritise yourself and your needs – If you need more sleep, your favourite meal, some alone time, time to just do nothing or maybe you need to vent give yourself the space and time to do so.
Allow yourself to do less if and when you need to – Trying to look like you are doing a lot or even trying to do several things at once is a short lived high. You was not brought into this world to be constantly burnt out.
Remind yourself that you are human and you are allowed to feel a range of emotions.
Create some boundaries – Be kind to yourself during the process because creating boundaries is triggering and it does require patience (this is a tricky one and something I am still trying to do myself).
Create a routine/schedule – Reduce the risk of stress, overwhelm and overworking yourself by having a routine, also be open and kind to yourself when your routine has to change or has been changed/disrupted.
Acknowledge and accept your mistakes – Mistakes can and will be made because we are all figuring out life as we’re living it, this is a natural part of living.
Limit negative outside influences – This might be limiting your time on social media, spending for time with yourself or being mindful of the spaces that negatively impacts your time and energy.
Forgive yourself when you find yourself being unkind to yourself, forgive yourself for not being able to stop yourself for spiraling, forgive yourself for not taking care of yourself, forgive yourself for not knowing how to ask for help, forgive yourself! and for anyone who needs to hear it, you are forgiven.
Being kind to ourselves can be easy and it can also be a challenge, all of our journeys and experiences are different so your journey with being kind to yourself shouldn’t be something you compare with others, with that being said it does happen, so again be kind to yourself when it or if it does happen. Come back to these points, write them down, make up your own, have something that you can come back to and remind yourself that you are always deserving of kindness even when you haven’t always been kind to yourself.