Kindness makes everything easier. We love to be treated nicely. But being kind to ourselves is not always easy to come by. I found a great article in the New York Times called, Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges. The first question the article asks is, "Do you treat yourself as well as you treat your friends and family?"
I don't feel we're encouraged to be kind to ourselves. I grew up in an environment where will power and pushing yourself hard to do better was considered the way to go. Kindness was not a consideration. Kindness would make you soft and lazy. Now, I know from experience that being hard on myself makes me tired and fearful. It shrinks my motivation and closes off my heart.
In the article, Dr. Kristin Neff said “I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.”
My clients are often self-critically cruel to themselves. They use words in a way to whip themselves to do what they see as better. It feels emotionally harsh and abrasive. They wilt like a flower in a flame. That's why I encourage and induce kind words into the process of letting go. Actually, it takes the kindness to create actual and positive change.
When I feel the self-critical habit kick in, I can feel it tearing at me. It feels like violence. I think, "Would I put a stop to this if someone else were causing this pain in me?" I would say something or leave the room. The recognition helps cause the self-criticism fade.
Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges