How to be kind to yourself

kind to yourself
Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

When you’re going through something hard are you kind to yourself? Or do you berate yourself for feeling the way you do?

Instead of self-kindness when you’re feeling bad, you might try to prop yourself up with fake positivity. This only adds shame to the bad feelings. Why not try soothing yourself instead?

Kristin Neff, the foremost researcher on self-compassion, asks us to consider why we are so much meaner to ourselves than others in the same situation.

For example, when your friend tells you about a struggle they’re having, do you criticize them for not having it together? Or do you listen with empathy and reassure them with words of kindness?

Probably the latter. But when it comes to our own suffering, we refuse to give ourselves the same level of compassion.

The inner critic can be brutal and it might seem like she never takes time off. This critical voice is often the internalized echo of parents who criticized us when we were children.

The inner critic can be brutal. This internal voice is often the echo of parents who criticized us when we were children. Click To Tweet

If you never had your emotional needs met, it becomes difficult to know how to be kind to yourself as an adult. You simply have no frame of reference for self-love.

So, what are some of the ways you can be kind to yourself when self-soothing feels strange or impossible?

kind to yourself

1. Sleep

Allowing yourself to get enough sleep is a key way to demonstrate self-kindness. That’s why I’m not a proponent of the get up at 5 am to crush the day mentality.

Seven, eight, or nine hours sleep each night is essential to your mental health and well-being. Don’t buy into the lie that you’re lazy if you sleep more. We are more efficient on more sleep, so it’s actually the responsible thing to do.

2. Feel your feelings

If you grew up with emotional neglect you might avoid your feelings rather than facing them. Such neglect makes us view emotions as something bad or scary but they have a lot to tell us.

If you grew up with emotional neglect you might avoid your feelings and view emotions as bad or scary, but they have a lot to tell us. Click To Tweet

Instead of judging how you feel, simply observe your emotions. You can do this by sitting alone or writing about how you feel in a journal.

Try not to rationalize or minimize your feelings. That means feeling them as they are rather than comparing them to others who have it worse.

3. Be kind to yourself by meeting your needs

This might be hard at first because you may not know what your needs are. Start by taking note of what feels good to you. Which sensory experiences make you happy?

Do you like certain smells, tastes, or the way something feels? Rather than waiting until you’re so depleted you run to unhealthy coping mechanisms, ask yourself throughout the day what you need.

Maybe you need a nap. Or a warm bath. Or to give yourself a hug or snuggle a soft blanket. Smell some essential oils. Watch a funny show (instead of binge-watching 20 and zoning out to avoid your feelings).

What other ways can you think of to be kind to yourself?

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