Following on from Thursday’s post, “Part 1: Why You Need to Practise Being Kind to Yourself”, we will now be exploring ways in which you can practise being kind to yourself. All these tips are things you can start practising straight away, and gradually overtime they will become natural and second-nature to you.
- Daily Mantra – A mantra is nothing more than a collection of words strung together to create a positive effect, which you repeat throughout the day. This practise is immensely effective in keeping you focused, strong and happy. Words affect the mind in a pronounced way, whether you write them down, think them, or speak them, they are powerful influences. For example, if you want to become more confident you might repeat to yourself, “I am strong, able and calm”. If you’re feeling depressed or lost, you might repeat to yourself, “I have everything I need”. Repeat these words continuously to yourself throughout the day. While what you say to others is important, it is even more important what you say to yourself.
- Mindfulness – Research shows that people who consistently practise mindfulness become more compassionate towards themselves. By being mindful, it will allow you to recognise you’re having self-critical thoughts and help you observe them as unhelpful thinking, without being judgemental or suppressing your thoughts and feelings. For more tips on practising mindfulness, click here.
- Forgive yourself – We all do things we regret every day. We hurt people we don’t mean to hurt, we say the wrong things without thinking, and we act in irrational ways when we are feeling overwhelmed with emotions. Remember that you are not the only one making mistakes! Learn from your mistakes, make any apologies and amends you need to, and then move on. You won’t be able to learn and grow from your mistakes if you are still living in the past.
- Look after yourself – Eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep are amongst the kindest things you can do for yourself. When you’re tired, hungry, sick or in pain, you are more susceptible to strong negative thoughts and emotions. By making sure you are well rested and nourished, you will be able to cope better with negative emotions, think more clearly, make wiser decisions, and feel more positive.
- Allow yourself the good moments – When something good happens to you, something you have spent ages to achieve, such as winning an award at work, finishing your university degree, or passing a driving test, you might not allow yourself to savour the good moments. You might feel that you don’t deserve it, it was just good luck, or it would seem inappropriate to enjoy. However, if you start to enjoy and appreciate your positive experiences and achievements, you are more likely to be happier and optimistic than those who don’t. If you have just finished a difficult piece of work and you are pleased with how it has turned out, take the time to sit there and relish in the feelings of pride and satisfaction. Often people confuse this with arrogance, but by acknowledging our hard work and achievements, we are being present in the moment and enjoying these emotions to the fullest. Not only will it be beneficial for you, but the people who care about you will also want to celebrate your hard work and achievement, and for them to see you happy will make them feel happy too!
- Self-soothing – When you’re in a difficult or stressful circumstance that can’t be solved right away, such as waiting for a scary health result back, or waiting for your mum to come out of an operation, self-soothing is a way to be kind towards yourself in that moment. Self-soothing is not a form of avoidance, you are not denying the difficult situation or not allowing yourself to feel upset. Instead, it gives you the time to take some time out for yourself when you need it most, putting you in a better frame of mind for making decisions when you can. It helps the situation become easier, as it encourages you to stay focused in the present moment, and not contemplate about all the different outcomes of your current situation which you can do nothing about. Some simple ways to soothe yourself might be taking a long bath, going for a walk, or if you don’t have much time or are physically limited, some smaller things such as buying some nice flowers, cuddling a pet, listening to calming music, or even finding a comfortable chair and snuggling up under a blanket and lighting a candle.
- Allowing emotions to come without justifying them – Although some thoughts and feelings may seem irrational on the surface, there is always a reason for them. Even if other people in the same situation don’t feel the same as you, that’s because we’re all different, and depending on our body and brain chemistry and our previous life experiences, we’re all going to react differently to the same situation. Don’t spend time worrying or criticising yourself for having certain thoughts and feelings. Just observe them and practise mindfully accepting them. An example of this is if your pet dies and you feel intense grief and sadness, you might think to yourself “this is silly, it’s just a pet, it’s not as if a human died”. But by criticising yourself you’ll only intensify those emotions, and as aforementioned, each emotion has a reason for being there, don’t try and justify it.
- Practise gratitude – Practising gratitude is a great way to be kinder to yourself as you take the time to notice all the amazing things around you, and appreciate everything you have. Remember, “life doesn’t always give you what you ask for, but it always gives you what you need.” For more tips of practising gratitude click here.
- Be friends with the right people – Being friends with negative people can have a severe impact on the way you feel about yourself. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good, who motivate you to be the best possible version of yourself, and who are always kind and supportive in times of need. My best friend once said to me, “anyone who brings you down rather than up doesn’t deserve your time”. I think this is important to remember for all relationships in life.
- Recognise when things aren’t in your control – The only thing we can control in our life is our attitude and our thoughts at any given moment. We cannot control the weather, the traffic or the mood of those around us. Say for example you go for a job interview, and it’s been narrowed down to you and one other person, but that other person gets the job. You might have thoughts such as “I’m useless”, “I should have got that job”, “I’m clearly not clever enough”. But what you might not have taken into consideration is that the other person who got the job simply might have more experience than you or be a better match for the job, and that isn’t in your control! You cannot control external factors, such as the other person and what qualities they may have. If you’ve done the best you can, all you can control is how you choose to react to the situation.
- See failure as a chance to learn and grow – Failure is something you will inevitably encounter throughout your life. Instead of seeing it as a negative experience, see it as an opportunity to grow and learn. There are no mistakes in life, only lessons.
- Start complimenting yourself – Each day make it a challenge to compliment yourself. Even if you start off with just one compliment a day, such as “you look really good in those jeans”, or “you did a great job at work today”, by replacing your negative thoughts with positive ones, it will help you to start feeling kinder and more compassionately towards yourself.
Learning to be kinder towards yourself is hard and takes time, but you will quickly discover just how many benefits there are from practising it. I hope you find these tips helpful and your life can become happier and more peaceful.
Metta, E xx