I’ve been reflecting this week on the power of kindness. Many times I sit with clients who seem to have a huge capacity to care, and do much for relatives and friends, and yet are experiencing their lives as a kind of silent torture, full of frustration and anger, and feeling that they don’t matter.
A good indicator of how you feel deep down is how you speak to other people. Begin to notice how you talk to them. Are the ways you think about what is happening colouring what you notice and how you respond? Are you experiencing frustration, insecurity, fear or anger, and acting out of these emotions? Do you speak kindly to others or have you fallen into an autopilot pattern of speaking in a harsh tone? Do you sometimes come across as critical or judgemental?
There is a saying that we can only be as kind to others as we are to ourselves. To give with an open heart requires a full heart, a heart full of kindness and love for ourselves that can over-spill to support and cherish others. Pause frequently and take a few moments to notice how you speak to yourself. What is your inner commentator saying ? Is it cheering you on as you face life’s challenges, or does it criticize you unfairly? Are difficult emotions – frustration, insecurity, fear or anger – being turned inwards? I sometimes ask people if they would speak to their best friend the way they speak to themselves in their head – what is the answer to this question for you?
The key to being kind is to soften how we treat ourselves. Instead of the fierceness it is so easy to fall into, talk in a nurturing tone inside. Be patient with yourself. Recognise and praise yourself for your efforts, and forgive yourself for your shortcomings.
This is not about indulgence or letting yourself off the hook. It’s about honesty and balance, really seeing what is happening and looking without judgement. We are all human, so expecting perfection is likely to lead to disappointment. It’s funny how finding a kind and forgiving way of being with ourself unlocks energy and well-being, far from letting yourself off the hook, it usually makes far more possible.
So, what one kindness will you do for yourself today?