How to be Kind to Yourself! With a Simple 4 Step Process and Journaling Prompts

Woman who does not know how to be kind to yourself wearing superhero mask and cape

When you’re feeling stressed or finding things hard, do you give yourself the care you need?

None of us are superheroes, yet we behave like one: “soldiering on”, constantly pushing through mental and physical discomfort, and tiredness, as if we had everlasting reserves of power.

As a society we don’t know “how to be kind to yourself”. When things get tough or we have too much on our plates, our default action is to Just. Keep. Going. We’ll relax when it’s done.

But we never get to stop, because something else always happens—or our tiredness and distractedness causes us to make mistakes.

Keep on keeping on…

There’s a common British expression: I must ‘get on’. And most people I know in England say this frequently. I even remember hearing it on the TV show, Downton Abbey.

I MUST (absolutely have to) GET ON (keep going—because time is getting away from me and there’s so much still to do).

Well, must we?

This used to be me. I was always doing and feeling guilty if I didn’t finish something. The idea of not honouring a commitment was unacceptable. I’d go to events even when feeling anxious, in pain or just plain exhausted. I worked super-late just to finish things. My brain would be buzzing so I didn’t sleep well. I packed everything in and was always running on adrenaline. And then, because I was busy and tired, I would read late into the night to relax, skip my exercise class, breaks or healthy meals—basically avoiding the very things that would help me relax and recover!

Gradually however, as I read more personal development books, worked with my counsellor, journalled, oh yes—and had a major health crisis—I learned that:

  • I have value simply because I exist. I didn’t need to keep proving it.
  • I didn’t need to earn love—or my place in the world.
  • And I certainly didn’t need to earn the right to rest!

Because rest is something that every living thing needs. It’s when our bodies recuperate and our brains literally heal, process and grow.

And rest is what allows us to be our best selves: if not for us, then for those we love.

People often ask: How can I be kind to myself?

As if we don’t already know what we truly need…

A list of “10 ways to be kind to yourself”—while helpful for inspiration—is not the solution! Because there are endless ways (big and small) to be kind to yourself. That’s the easy part.

Watch next week for ideas for how to be kind to yourself!

The real challenge is: RECOGNIZING that we need self-care. And then VALUING ourselves—and how we feel—enough to act on it…

This is Extremely Important

It’s EASY to be kind to yourself. But you must first RECOGNIZE when you need it.

And you must also BELIEVE you deserve it enough to TAKE ACTION.

The challenge is not figuring out how to be kind to yourself:
it’s VALUING yourself enough to DO it.

Life for most of us is busy and tiring…

Many of us are over-stimulated and stressed most of the time: we spend our lives rushing around, always doing, connected to technology and with ‘content’ pushed at us in a never-ending stream.

But just because it seems normal doesn’t mean that it’s good for us.

And our emotions and feelings are not taken seriously

Modern society doesn’t place enough value on our feelings and emotions. Worse—feelings are trivialised, considered ‘feminine’ (as if that’s an insult!), unmanly or irrational.

Feelings are seen to ‘get in the way’. They ‘interrupt what we’re doing and embarrass us’ and should therefore be avoided, stuffed down, ignored or made fun of.

Yet our feelings are essential signals: they tell us who we are, what we need, who and what matters.

Consider that every time you do something that goes against your values, you feel a twinge. When you need something your body sends you a nudge. You have an emotional response to what matters to you (and what gets in the way of what matters!).

If only we listened to ourselves…

 

So, how can you be kind to yourself?

Well, first there are 4 challenges:

  1. We must BE AWARE that we need kindness, that we’re finding things hard.
  2. We need to RESPECT our needs instead of judging ourselves—or ignoring it and pretending we’re OK.
  3. We need to know WHAT to do about it (the easy part!).
  4. And then we must be willing to DO something about it (the harder part!).

And here are 4 Steps for How to be Kind to Yourself

Make a PACT with you!

  1. PAUSE. Notice and acknowledge what you’re feeling.
  2. ASK. What do I need right now? What would self-kindness look like? And be open to hearing whatever your body/mind has to say.
  3. CHOOSE. Decide what you will do for yourself.
  4. TIME. Lastly, either do it now or make a commitment to yourself exactly WHEN you will do it.

And this is where Fierce Kindness comes in

It takes courage to be kind to ourselves because self-kindness is not valued in modern society.

1) SELF-KINDNESS is the act of taking CARE of ourselves, giving ourselves whatever we need (whether it’s self-soothing with words—or taking action).

2) The FIERCE part. Taking care of ourselves requires courage and inner strength to:

  • Go against society’s norms
  • Manage our limiting beliefs or our critic that says: Keep going! Finish it! You should have worked harder! Stop being so lazy/weak/irrational!
  • Say “no” or change our mind when we need to.
  • Set a boundary with another person.
  • Avoid the “quick fix” and give ourselves what we truly need, not just what is easiest.
  Some homework questions to ponder or journal around:
  • How do you know you’re finding things hard? What are your signs of stress?
  • How do you currently react if/when you notice that you’re stressed out?
  • What are your go-to solutions for when you’re stressed or feeling overwhelmed?
  • And what new ideas could you think of—if you were to take how you feel and caring for your self more seriously? What are you willing to change?
  • And lastly, what does your inner critic think about all this? And, if needed, what could you say to calm your critic?

Wrap-up

Being kind to ourselves—self-kindness—means that we love and take care of ourselves no matter what. And bringing some Fierce adds the courage, strength, determination or perseverance that we need to do that.

Protecting and caring for ourselves is important for your physical and mental health, career and your loved ones. It impacts how much you enjoy your life—or don’t—as well as your ability to learn, grow and succeed! And it’s a job only we can do.

What could be more important than this?

Lastly, remember that the KEY to self-care is paying attention to—and respecting—your feelings.

Our feelings tell us everything we need to know—and what to do to be kind to ourselves—if we would only listen.

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Change the world. Start with you!

 

Image of Woman who does not know how to be kind to yourself wearing superhero mask and cape by krakenimages via Kraken Images

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