Everywhere you look someone is telling us to practice “self-care.” I know there’s a science behind it, but I think we need to pump the brakes a little on adding more pressure to our lives and ask a simple question: Are you kind to yourself?
Really think about it. Actually kind. The kind you would expect your children to be on the playground? The kind you display to others when they are hurting. Truly kind.
At least not all of the time.
Where Did All the Kindness Go?
I feel like I’m a kind person. The help-a-stranger-jump-start-their-car kind of person. The remembering-birthdays kind of person. The bring-you-a-lasagna kind of person. I bet you are, too.
But I’m not always kind to myself. Sometimes, I’ll beat myself up that I’m a few minutes late to the office because my 2-year-old took 11 years to brush her teeth. Or I’ll belittle how much progress I’ve made on writing my book because I missed a self-imposed deadline. I will say that I don’t play the social media comparison game, while simultaneously playing the social media comparison game.
I question decisions I’ve made in my parenting or stuff I could have just as easily let slide in my marriage. While I do my best to keep in touch with friends, sometimes I get so busy that I lose track of the weeks. Then I feel that guilty pit in my stomach when someone asks how that friend is doing and I have no clue.
When I think about all of this, I recognize that I don’t extend a lot of true kindness back in my own direction. Instead, it’s a little judgment and a lot of pressure to do better. (And a sinking feeling I was supposed to be doing a face mask or something.)
Learning to Be Kind.
Even after listing out all of the reasons I’m not as kind to myself as I could be, I know that I’m much better at self-kindness these days than I used to be.
I was the high school kid who got carted off in an ambulance twice because I worked myself into such a perfectionist frenzy I forgot to eat and let my blood sugar plummet. I would throw pity parties of one when I wasn’t in a relationship and I’d over-analyze what I was doing wrong. And as a new mom, I sobbed in the doctor’s office on more than one occasion questioning my ability to properly parent and bounce back to my pre-baby body.
Getting older has helped. I’ve found that perfect isn’t attainable and it’s quite honestly boring. I stopped worrying about what was wrong with me and instead focused on what I needed from a relationship to be happy. And in motherhood, well… we’re all just doing the best we can. That’s not to say I won’t question my choices. But I do give myself a bit more grace.
Simply Be Kind.
If kindness to others is showing them respect and consideration, then kindness to yourself is showing yourself respect and consideration. To continue on my “self-kindness journey,” if you will, I’ll keep that in mind.
As a professional, I’ll give myself credit where it is due. As a mother, I’ll trust my own judgment. As a person, I’ll respect my body, give myself a break, and eat that piece of chocolate.
Quite frequently, we aren’t as kind to ourselves as we are to others. And there is so much pressure around us to add more in order to show that you are practicing self-care. Maybe we can simplify this by being kind. By giving ourselves a break, and perhaps a little love.
This story originally appeared on With Love, Becca