Be Kind to Yourself | Choose Joy

There’s a lot of unkindness in this world. Surely you’ve noticed the hatred and anger on the news, on social media, everywhere. People don’t think twice about lambasting others in print, in person, or to other people. It’s awful. It’s brutal. It’s the exact opposite of what we’re supposed to be doing on this Earth and in this mortal life: which is to learn to love.

My question to you, dear friend, is whether these people, these unkind people, are kind to themselves? I can’t see into their hearts and minds, but I’d bet that people who are unkind to others are also unkind to themselves. You don’t exercise that sort of outward hatred unless there’s some inner loathing as well.

From about Kindergarten all the way through high school, I was bullied by this same kid. It was awful, but it was obvious why he was picking on someone: he had an obvious physical ailment. For this reason, I never returned the favor. Bullying is a hot topic right now, and rightfully so, but 13 years of bullying never harmed my soul. Perhaps I was too aware of my individual worth. Perhaps my family loved me too much (my older brother did defend my honor quite passionately). Perhaps I always felt God’s love. Whatever the reason, the incident has served me well, making me a little more aware of what might be fomenting inside; you never know another’s battlefield. Mean people have their own struggles. Maybe they’re not so mean, just insecure. Maybe they just dislike themselves.

So today I ask you to be kind to yourself. Action for Happiness’ Joyful June idea for the day states,

“Be kind to you. Treat yourself the way you would treat a friend.”

Love yourself. Expect the best from yourself, but if you fall short, give yourself another chance. The Lord gives us as many chances as we need; surely we can do the same. If you don’t know where to start, I suggest at the beginning:

  • Tell yourself you’re beautiful (or handsome). Every morning, every night. As often as it takes.
  • Don’t ask too much of yourself. I tend to want to improve myself too fast, and then when I inevitably burn out or slip up, I blame myself. One step at a time.
  • Take responsibility for your mistakes, and then move on. Make amends, fix whatever needs fixing, and get on with life. Dwelling never helps. I know this as a OCD person.
  • Ask yourself, Would I say this to my friends, before thinking or saying something unkind. One time my Mom showed me a picture of this scowling 8-year-old me. I laughed and made an unkind comment about myself, but she stopped me. She told me that right before this picture was taken (we were vacationing at Aspen Groves in Colorado), I had fallen off the bunk bed in the cabin where we were staying. My little face and body were incredibly bruised and battered (I do remember parts of this, the pain especially). I wasn’t being difficult in the picture, I was in pain. That taught me something about judging yourself harshly, whether in the past or in the present.
  • Give yourself a break. Whether this means allowing yourself to cheat on a strict diet or take a 10-minute you time in the middle of a busy day or allowing yourself to be human. Just give yourself a break.
  • Pamper yourself. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on fake eyelashes, a pedi and mani, and a full-body massage (unless you have the time and money, and then that’s totally your decision). You can just take a long bath, put on some make-up, and feel pretty.
  • Take care of yourself. You’re no good to anyone, including yourself, if you never take a little you time. You’re family will understand. Heck, they can even help carry the burden. This taking care of yourself might mean doing something that you really don’t want to do (like go to bed early or exercise). You’ll thank yourself someday (supposedly—I still don’t like to go to bed early, but I’m operating on faith that it’ll be worth it one day).
  • Serve others. Nothing feeds your soul and sense of self-worth more than helping another.

Be kind to yourself, and this will lead to being kind to others. Don’t be like the rest of the world, indulging in the worst humanity has to offer. Be the best, be the spark, light the world with happiness and joy and love. And it starts with kindness to yourself. Once you know your self-worth, you’ll understand the self-worth of others.

Choose Joy.

—A

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