- Mel Strunk
Practicing Kindness to Yourself
One of my favorite parts of being a therapist is the interaction that I have with my clients. Really getting to know someone, talking about the most personal details of someones life, knowing that they trust me with the most difficult aspects of their lives. Truly knowing someone in this way allows me to see how caring, kind and compassionate my clients are as human beings. They are usually individuals who wear many hats in their daily lives. An individual who would do anything for someone they care about, someone who volunteers for anything to help make another persons life easier, a self sacrificing parent making sure their child is never without anything. It's really beautiful to hear about the unconditional kindness that is being offered in the world, especially when there is heartache and destruction in so many places.
Despite all of the kindness that I know my clients show to others, there is one theme that I see on a consistent basis. That is forgetting to be kind to yourself. Here are some common statements that I hear regarding why it is difficult to practice kindness to oneself, as well as ways to challenge those statements.
1.) "I would be selfish if I did that." My response: You are not selfish because you want to eat, watch TV, or make plans with a friend. Can you ever picture someone you care about telling you that they want to do any of these activities and you responding by telling them they are selfish? If you wouldn't say it to a friend, don't say it to yourself. You deserve it!
2.) "I'm not really good at doing that." My Response: That's because you're not used to it. Not being good at being kind to yourself is an excuse to not be kind to yourself. Lay off the excuses and try something different.
3.) "I don't have time for self care." My response: Self care can look like so many different things. Listen to your favorite music when you're in the car, take a bubble bath instead of a shower, light some candles and enjoy your favorite scents while sitting in your living room. Self care doesn't have to necessarily be something that you do in addition to your daily routine. Find ways to incorporate it into activities that you're already doing.
4.) "They need me." My response: Yes, they do, but you also need you. Sacrificing your own needs on a consistent basis to meet someone else's needs instead, usually backfires. You end up exhausted, resentful, aggitated, and not your best self. Pay attention to what it feels like when you try and take care of someone else without having taken care of yourself first. Then do the opposite by making sure you're taken care of. Everyone involved will benefit from you taking care of you.