The Chicago Public Library Foundation and Flowers for Dreams kick off our partnership with a #BeKind campaign that begins within.
We view kindness in a double-standard lens. When directed towards others, kindness is a selfless gesture. When directed towards ourselves, it is considered a selfish act. A lot of it can be traced to the perception that kindness is about putting others’ needs before our own, all the time. But what if it’s the other way around?
Years of research say that it is only when we are compassionate to ourselves that we can truly give compassion to others. Of course, it is easier said than done. We have become hardwired to be self-critical that self-compassion almost seems unnatural. But we all need to start somewhere. Like everything else in life, we need to practice so being kind to ourselves becomes a habit.
Here are the 5 things you can do to be kind to yourself today.
1. Compliment yourself
Look in the mirror and say something nice about yourself. It can be as simple as “I’m amazing” or “I am in charge of today.” Author, Kristine Neff, wrote, “The head loves to run away with storylines.” The more we say positive words, the better we feel. Of course, compliments come easy on good days, when we are bursting with confidence. What about the days when frustration creeps up and we fall short of our own expectations? What do we say then? You can always start with, “I choose to be brave,” “I can do this,” or “It will get better.” We have to pay attention to the language we use on ourselves, slowly replacing negative phrases with affirmative ones.
2. Give yourself a timeout
No matter how busy your day is, always set aside ME time. Walk around the block. Read a chapter from a book. Or just close your eyes and breathe. A timeout allows you to process your thoughts, so they become less overwhelming. This also gives you a chance to reset if you need it. More importantly, this gives you time to focus on you.
3. Do something good for you
You have always been encouraged to be kind to others just because. It’s about time you do acts of kindness for you. Why? Because you deserve it. Take yourself out on a date. Give yourself a weekend to do whatever you want. Why not send yourself a bouquet of flowers? (Our friends from Flowers for Dreams have an amazing collection. You can check them out here.)
Whoever coined the phrase, “Laughter is the best medicine” knew what they were talking about. Aside from all the scientifically-proven benefits of laughter, you should laugh more for the simple reason that it feels good. So, laugh alot. Laugh loudly. Laugh unapologetically. Try it! (Seriously, try laughing now.)
5. Cut yourself some slack
We are our own worst critics. We are quick to admonish and judge ourselves for anything less than the ideal. Let’s be honest; we say harsh things to ourselves that we would never dare say to someone else. The next time you hear your inner critic, ask yourself, “Is this something I would tell someone I care for?” Practice the Golden Rule in reverse: Treat yourself the way you would treat others.
Self-compassion does not happen overnight. It takes time. It takes patience. And it takes understanding that frustrations, shortcomings, and mistakes are all part of the human experience. They do not make you, or anyone, less worthy of kindness.
A big thanks to Flowers for Dreams for choosing the Chicago Public Library Foundation as their non-profit partner this September. 20% of the month’s profits will fund education programs for Chicagoans of all ages at Chicago Public Library. Flowers for Dreams has joined the Curious Movement, have you? Click here