This is part of a series of short posts on what we, at Alethya, believe are the four key values of conscious relationships: honesty, authenticity, respect and kindness. See our TEDx talk too for a short insight and a happy ever after story.
Kindness. It seems so soft and fluffy doesn’t it? A little bit silly. Irrelevant, even. But we need only listen to The Smiths to remind ourselves: “it takes guts to be gentle and kind” because it really, really does. And, the hardest part of kindness is learning to be kind to ourselves.
Before we get started, a gentle reminder that self-kindness doesn’t mean shopping, spas and box-sets with Deliveroo. It doesn’t even mean affirmations, positive thinking and imagining your self as perfect. Nope. Though, to make things complicated, sometimes it can.
Self-kindness means starting to trust ourselves, listen to ourselves and to step away from listen gin t the inner critic, that voice or image in your head that tells you that you are not, and never will be, good enough. It is about learning to accept as a baseline, as an absolute bare fact, this one thing: You are already good enough.
What would you do right now if you fully trusted yourself and your feelings? How would you act?
Kindness to the self is about taking the mean words away and replacing them with: I am doing my best. I can. I will when I am day. It is about taking the values above and acting on them whilst also being gentle and compassionate to yourself.
One of my own stumbling blocks to self-kindness is that, as a child raised by an alcohol dependent parent and an anxious parent, I didn’t experience much kindness in my formative years. Care, yes. Kindness, no. There’s no blame or anger here (going to therapy, working though that) but there is very real sense that it’s not just me that experienced this. What do we do if we have not experienced much kindness?
Think about how you treat your pet or your best friend (child/most cared for family member) when they are ill. That’s a good place to start. As is talking to an expected therapist, ideally someone who has worked with trauma and has knowledge of somatic therapy. As is writing or drawing some things down as they come up.
Gentleness. Softness. Calmness. These are words that kindness evokes. We can learn to treat ourselves with them.
Kindness is where we start and how we continue. Regardless of the things that come up, regardless of what you do or don’t do, the kindness stays. Yes, it might be hard to learn and, yes, it might feel odd at times, but it’s a process that will go on for your whole life. And when is the best time to start a lifelong process? Right now.
Start by taking note of when you find it easy to be kind to yourself and others. Notice the conditions of your body and mind at those times, notice the context and repeat. Make a note of when you find it harder and consider what you can, or cannot, change.
Lastly, remember to be kind to yourself when you fail to be kind to yourself. Because it will keep happening and that’s absolutely okay.
Kindness is the foundation for all other values and for love itself. Kindness is the path to joy.