Have you ever wondered why we’re so much nicer and more understanding to other people than we are to ourselves? We get so busy caring for others that we don’t have the energy or the desire to care for ourselves. The problem is that when we don’t treat ourselves well, it can intensify to the point where we end up hurting ourselves mentally, emotionally, and physically.
In many ways, we don’t act like our own best friends, but our bullies. We say and do things to ourselves that we’d never say to the people we love and respect. How often have you found yourself being overly self-critical while holding yourself up to impossible standards? I’m not saying that one shouldn’t strive to greatness, but how about being gentle with yourself every now and then? We need to be kinder to ourselves.
Learning how to be kinder to yourself isn’t just about practicing self-care—though that can be a big part of it—it’s about being compassionate to yourself and listening to what your body, head, and heart are telling you.
“One of the greatest acts of kindness we can give ourselves is to acknowledge that we are worthy of kindness, care, and attention just as we are,” says style and identity coach, Jessica Jo Fisher. “The very act of showing ourselves kindness and taking care of ourselves can be the first step in freeing ourselves from limiting beliefs around our worthiness. And any work focused on lifting your beliefs in yourself, is, I believe, the ultimate way to be kind to yourself.”
So, what do you do when you want to start making an effort to be kinder to yourself? I AM & CO spoke with some experts about ways to be nicer to yourself. These methods are simple, easy, and don’t cost much, but the benefits are great. You are the most important person in your life, and you deserve to be treated with kindness, compassion, and love.
How to be Kinder to Yourself
Think of yourself as a priority:
You are a VIP in your life and should be treated as such. Life coach and author Yocheved Golani says, “In today’s world, it’s a challenge to be kind to anyone, let alone to ourselves. We rush around too much meeting deadlines, focusing on social media, and skimping on self-care. Then we feel like failures, physically and/or emotionally exhausted. So, the first thing you might want to do is to realize that you are a priority in your life!” Putting yourself at the top of your list and making sure your needs are taken seriously is how to be kinder to yourself.
Remind yourself about all the ways that you’re amazing:
It can be easy to forget all the ways that make you truly special: your talents, skills, abilities, interesting quirks, your likes, dislikes, opinions, your beauty—inside and out, your accomplishments, and even your failures—all the things that make you incredible. Explore how to be kinder to yourself through self-love affirmations. “When you are stuck in that loop of not thinking you are enough one of the best ways to end the cycle is to write down everything amazing about yourself,” says Andrea Travillian, lifestyle transformation coach.
Make a gratitude journal:
Now that you have your list about how wonderful you are, Jill Reggiannini, confidence and success coach, suggests starting a gratitude journal and “routinely writing down the things that you’re thankful for in life.” Being grateful for who you are and what you already have helps you to have a positive attitude which is a crucial component in being kind to yourself.
Don’t forget to like yourself:
“Liking yourself sounds so easy but is so difficult,” says Julie Fanning LCSW, of Holding Hope Services. “Take time to identify the characteristics of your personality that you enjoy. Try to identify a couple each day. Remind yourself that you are awesome and that you enjoy spending time with you.”
Connect with the child you used to be:
Melissa Wolak, MS says, “It can be powerful to imagine yourself as a child. When you see that image, estimate your age. Then find a photo of yourself, print it out, and make it visually accessible. When you are making decisions or finding that you’re being hard on yourself, speak to and support this little or younger you. She still lives inside of you and you will be more kind to her and YOU.”
Avoid comparing yourself to other people:
I know it can be easy to compare yourself and get caught up in the perfect lives and incredible successes that we see other people having on social media, but we’re not seeing the whole picture.The truth is you’re doing everything that you need to be doing and you’re right on track. Amber Romaniuk, Emotional Eating Expert says, “If you catch yourself comparing yourself to others, pause, and give that person a compliment and compliment yourself.”
Self-compassion is being understanding with yourself and curbing the negative and toxic things you say. When you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk, Amber Romaniuk says, “Ask yourself if the negative statement is really true. Apologize to yourself and give yourself a compliment to restore integrity.” If you see a pattern with compliments, you’re right. Giving yourself a compliment or saying some affirmations are good ways to balance out any negative thinking and emotional bullying you might be doing to yourself.
It’s more than okay to be lazy or to do something that has no other benefit than you like it or that it relaxes you. “Make a habit of treating yourself to some guilty pleasures. Whatever you desire, indulge in it as often as possible,” says life coach and motivational speaker Damon Nailer. “Always remember, no one will celebrate you like you. Pat yourself on the back, throw your own parties, and enjoy ‘you’ to the fullest.”
Spend time with animals:
There are many benefits to having pets: they can help you stay healthy, they give you unconditional love, and they can boost your mood. It may not be obvious but in their own way, pets encourage you to be gentler to yourself. Once you learn how to be kinder to your pets; you can learn how to be kinder to yourself.
Treat your body right:
With our busy lives, we often forget how much we put our bodies through. Being kind to yourself includes being thoughtful and kind to your body. Make a point to get enough sleep, to eat better, drink plenty of water, and do some kind of movement every day that you enjoy. “The better you physically feel in your body the better you feel emotionally about yourself,” says Amber Romaniuk. Taking care of your body will teach you how to be kinder to yourself.
Jennifer Jakobsen, an integrative life coach, defines mindfulness as “being focused on the present moment in a kind way. It is paying attention with intention and without judgment” and she goes on to say, “By intentionally being in the moment instead of the usual autopilot of our busy lives, we can be aware of our possible inner negative dialogue. Once we notice that this inner critic is dominating our thoughts, we can make a choice to silence it. Being mindful gives us the pause and the quiet we need to do this.” When you’re fully present then your mind isn’t caught up in the past going over failed relationships, mistakes, or backfires.
Do something fun:
Learn how to be kinder to yourself by dating yourself. Take yourself out on a date, do the things you want to do by yourself, and learn how to enjoy your alone time. Health coach Olyvia DuSold talks about what she did to be kinder to herself after a breakup. “When something sparked my interest, be it a class, a person, or a restaurant I would make it happen and I would get to see myself in all these different settings. It was here that I realized I could be kind to myself and set my own standard of how I wanted to be treated.” When you enjoy your own company, you create good feelings about yourself and who you are. Being kind to yourself isn’t difficult if you make it fun.
Get comfortable with forgiveness:
Sherry Gavanditti, communications specialist says, “Forgive yourself. The past and its mistakes are best left in the past; as long as we can learn from our mistakes. Forgive others who have hurt you. If you don’t, they continue to hurt you inside.” Forgiveness is a powerful tool and it benefits you greatly when you use it. Letting go of any animosity or negativity you feel towards someone shows you how to be kinder to yourself, makes you feel lighter, and freer.
Make time every day for reflection:
A great way to explore how to be kinder to yourself is by taking an hour or so before bed to chill and reflect. Ciara Gogan, empowerment specialist and impact coach says, “Give yourself at least a few minutes of time completely to yourself every day. Put down your tech, close your eyes and think about what went well for you that day.” Melissa Wolak says, “At the end of the day, check-in [with yourself] and ask, ‘What went right?’ or ‘What accomplishments am I proud of? Or “How did I nourish myself today?’ You deserve a pat on the back, and you do not need to wait for others to give that to you, what you think matters most.”
Treat yourself as you would a beloved friend or family member with sensitivity, empathy, care, and affection. That’s how to be kinder to yourself. You are worthy of love, kindness, and compassion...and the more you have of them, the better you will feel.