One of the biggest challenges I have as a re-story-fier* (life coach, to the uninitiated) is to guide people to be kinder to themselves.
And isn’t that the hardest lesson to learn?
It’s often difficult to be kind to other people – especially when they are getting on our nerves, but it is mind-bendingly difficult to be kind to ourselves. It’s like we’re afraid that if we are gentle with ourselves, we’ll somehow slip off into madness and get totally out of control.
We aren’t taught how to be kind to ourselves, either. Instead, we get positive reinforcement – in school, at home, in commercials,and in society in general** for being tough on ourselves, for being unforgiving. We are always being told how to be hard on ourselves, and the messages we get mix up discipline (training ourselves to work in effective ways) with punishment (being hard on ourselves for falling short of our plans).
I know I’m hard on myself that way sometimes, wondering if I am just not trying hard enough, wondering what I’ve done wrong, wondering why I just can’t get it together. The good thing is, though, that because I have spent so much time reminding other people to be kind to themselves, I usually catch myself pretty early.
Because I know how hard this is for all of my clients, I have been working hard to make sure that my kids learn to be kind to themselves. It’s tough to be a kid, there’s a lot of pressure to excel at everything and not so much consideration for kids who want to try things just for fun. It would be easy to get caught up in the swirl and let them pile pressure on themselves for not being enough. I try to stay conscious of it, though, and I remind them of times they can make choices to support themselves, I tell them they are enough just as they are, and I try to give them tools to help them see themselves in a softer light.
Are you kind to yourself? How did you pick up kindness habits?
If you aren’t kind to yourself, do you think you could try it out for a while?
*I call myself a re-story-fier because I like to help people change the stories that they automatically tell themselves about their experiences, so they can cast themselves in a more positive – KINDER- light.
**Don’t even get me started on the fitness inspiration posters that are supposed to be cheering you on, but seem to be really telling you that anything other than Olympic effort is a waste of time.