In Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, she guides you towards the rediscovery of your creative identity, overcoming blocks, fears, guilt, and strengthening confidence and belief. She writes: “We must actively, consciously, consistently, and creatively nurture our artist selves.” Now, whether you consider yourself a creative person or an artist, the sentiment of nurturing our inner selves is essential. And that’s being kind to yourself.
The importance of being kind to yourself
The most basic and intrinsic foundation for self-care, self-love and respect, is the simple act of being kind to yourself. But being kind to ourselves isn’t always an easy instinct to reflect upon.
As self-aware individuals we have a tendency to focus on our faults, easily done, since we know and see everything that we do and think and feel. With such heavy notice upon all the things we think we do wrong, our failings and mishaps, being kind to ourselves takes a back seat to low self-esteem and ultimately, a lack of self-respect.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” —Buddha
So how can I start the kindness?
Here are some of our fave ways to indulge in a little self-love…
Six ways to be kind to yourself
Give yourself space to breathe and think. Don’t overload yourself with work and plans, take a day or an evening entirely to yourself. Go for a walk, listen to some music, have a bath. Take some time away from your responsibilities and let yourself exist in your own space for a time. When we don’t let ourselves stop, we let stress and anxieties build.
Bake your favorite cake, or treat yourself to that fruit you love but is too overpriced to have all the time. Pick up shells from the beach, buy a new book or blanket, or something you love. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t have to be justified, but if it makes you happy, treat yourself to it. I bought myself some yellow flowers with some loose change I had, and now my room feels beautiful, and I wake up looking at them.
Make a note of your successes
Make a list of everything you have done that makes you proud, every success however big or small. Note down all the things you do well, all the things you like about yourself. Compliments people have given you that you think of often. Keep it somewhere to be added to or to remind you of your positives on low days, and Darlings, there are so many wonderful things about you. These can be anything that makes you proud, even if other people wouldn’t understand them. If you’re proud of yourself for your fantastic sock collection, write that down.
As you make a note of all the things you have succeeded in, perhaps that voice in the back of your head also calls to mind everything you think you have failed at or done wrong. Forgive yourself for your faults. Let go of those things that drag down your self-esteem. Odds are, you’re the only person who can forgive those things, and you deserve to be forgiven. Say it aloud, write it down, whatever works. But stop holding things over your own head.
You are enough. Remind yourself of this. Accept yourself for how you are, flaws and all, a work in progress, with dreams to strive for and hopes for the future. You have things you like about yourself and things you don’t, sometimes you do well, other times you don’t. You’re human. Accept it.
“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Check-in with yourself
Several times a day, stop and ask yourself how you are. How are you feeling, how are coping? Answer honestly. Are you okay? Is something wrong, missing, or uncomfortable? Keep yourself in tune with your feelings and needs and respond accordingly. Treat yourself with respect and be honest about how you are. It does matter, even if you’re the only one who knows.
Simple small acts of everyday kindness. Are you feeding yourself well, are you sleeping, are you using kind words and thinking supportive thoughts? Being kind to yourself has positive rippling effects through all the other aspects of you, your relationships, your mental health, your work. It should be a basic understanding that you treat yourself with kindness and respect, but so often it’s shaded with selfishness and guilt. An incorrect notion.
You do matter, you are worthy of kindness, and you are worth bestowing kindness upon yourself.
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