During a recent conversation with a close friend I found myself listening as she beat herself up over a life choice and the amount of time it took for her to make corrections to head in a new direction. It saddened me to hear that she was continuing to be so hard on herself about something that had happened years ago. It hurt me to know that this wonderful, caring person was treating herself in a less than kind manner. I waited for her to finish, and then I said, “You need to forgive yourself. You need to be as gentle with yourself as you are with everyone else. You have to be kind to yourself in the same way that you are kind to those around you.”
We often make a conscious effort to practice kindness toward others, be it through random or intentional acts. We should take care to turn that same kindness inward. We must remember to exercise on ourselves the tenderness and compassion that we show to others.
Forgive yourself. You have made mistakes. Perhaps you have even done things knowing they were not right. Acknowledge your actions, and then forgive yourself. As you make the decision to pardon others for their transgressions, so should you exonerate yourself for your own. This does not mean you forget the lessons that you learn or give yourself leave to repeat bad behavior, but it does allow you to move forward in a positive direction.
Console yourself. You are there to comfort a friend when he is feeling low. You provide solace to a family member during difficult times. You may even offer kind words to someone you do not know who is showing signs of distress. You deserve the same alleviation of your own anguish or discomfort. You might well find it at the hands of another, but you can also find it internally. Let your inner voice speak words of comfort when you need to hear them.
Encourage yourself. You offer words of motivation to the person struggling next to you at the gym. You rally behind a co-worker who is struggling to complete a project. You stand on the sidelines of a race or a sporting event cheering on complete strangers. Give yourself the same uplifting support. Stop knocking yourself down or berating your “failures”. Instead, be your own cheerleader.
Love yourself. Be nice to you. Do it because you are worth loving. Love yourself, and you will be free to share more love with the world. Show yourself the affection and warmth that you give to those you hold dear.
Remind yourself that you deserve the gentleness that you bestow on others. When you practice self-kindness you set in motion a force within you that radiates graciousness and goodness outward. That alone is reason enough to turn kindness inward.
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