“We don’t need to wait to be kind until we’ve supposedly done something worthy of compassion. We can make kindness part of our everyday. We can speak kindly and gently to ourselves, especially when we’re struggling. I’m upset, and it’s totally understandable. I’m having a rough day. I can’t stop crying, and that’s OK. I need to feel this. We can get to know ourselves on a profound level. We can tend to our needs, especially when we’re stressed, especially when we don’t perform or produce, especially when we fail. Cousineau defines kindness as “love in action. How can you act lovingly toward yourself today?” – Tara Cousineau, Ph.D
I’m struck by this quote by Tara Cousineau because when I was being pulled through the shattered window of my totaled car, my husband dead next to me, an authoritative, unemotional male voice boomed into my head and said, “Be loving and kind to everyone.”
It has taken me time to understand that this also meant that I am to be kind to myself, that I am as important and precious as anyone else in my world. For me, kindness to myself means self-care and self-love. I have started catching myself when I hear negative self-talk in my head and replace it with a positive statement to myself. I have started taking better care of myself physically by taking yoga classes, working out whenever I can find the time, and eating healthy foods. Instead of chiding myself for my aging skin and aging body, I’ve begun encouraging myself to get an occasional feel better massage and a good facial.
And I’ve detached myself with love from some relationships that were becoming burdensome for me. The friend who attached drama to every issue in her life. The friend who had lots of problems and refused to do anything positive to heal her issues, who was content to endlessly complain about the same problems again and again. And the relative who had no problem yelling at me when things weren’t going well in her life. What did all of that have to do with me?
For the love of me, I’ve also invited some new friendships into my life. They are authentic and compassionate people who are empowered to improve their own lives, therefore inspiring me to continue to work on me in positive ways.
And I even find myself laughing at myself and enjoying some of the silly things I do. I’ve found out that I do not need to take life…and myself…so seriously. There are lots of things that deserve serious scrutiny, but when you get the chance, lighten up! You’ll feel better and like yourself lots more!