While growing up, we were taught the concept of selflessness.
I wanted to remind you today, that selflessness and self kindness are two different - yet very important - things to offer.
While our responsibilities grew through the years, we continued to think and act on selflessness, and often sacrifice. But are you the type of person who has forgotten that kindness to your self is equally important?
The two should coexist and balance you. If you look for others to be the ones to fulfill the role of "kindness" in your life, there is something missing in that expectation.
Self kindness encourages you to respect the individual you are by taking care of yourself as an important person in this world. It is not selfish in thought or action, although some may try to manipulate you to think as much.
Think smarter. Use the tools of reasoning that you have evolved over the years to allow yourself this extremely important gesture; knowing it helps both health and healing.
Years ago, I heard Dr. Beth McMahon in a wonderful presentation. She used the illustration of picturing yourself on a plane when the airbags drop down because of air decreasing in the cabin.
She went on to state that we feel the need to immediately take care of a child next to us. Yet if we do, we won't take the oxygen WE need in order to be there for them.
In this scenario, it doesn't mean forgetting them and being selfish.
It just means taking a moment to take care of ourselves first, so that we can take better care of them. Picture it: if you'd pass out, who would take care of them? And you?
I love that example and have often remembered McMahon's words over the years.
When trying to stretch too thin, it helps me picture what I'll call "the need to breathe." So what are a few ways you can be kinder to yourself?
1. Forgive yourself for something you said or did in the past, and move into this moment in life. Not forgiving yourself hasn't added to your health, has it? How long of a sentence have you given yourself in life until you do forgive? I strongly advocate self forgiveness, while knowing it can take some practice since we've conditioned ourselves to take self punishment. Can you relate?
2. Treat yourself like a person who has equal importance to others. I'm not talking about arrogance or self righteousness. I'm talking about equality of worth in this world.
3. Schedule time for JUST you. Before you think "Oh yeah when?" think about the consequence of not taking time for you. Resentment can be one of the quickest examples to result, if not others. And how is that working for you?
4. Allow yourself to "prune" negative people, places and things out of your life. This specific "self-permission" is one of the biggest kindnesses you can give yourself.
5. Be curious and open to the possibilities in your life. Your ability to envision things for yourself should be as strong as what you help others envision for their lives. Give yourself permission to wander around the unknown and unscheduled.
6. What if you talked nicer to yourself within your head? Don't accept the constant harsh self criticisms. (Would you talk to other people that way?)
7. Stop trying to read between the lines of what other people are saying. It can be exhausting, as we can think of things that aren't true about ourselves or self worth.
8. Try to not stay frozen within a moment (or event) in time. Give yourself permission to move on without survivor guilt.
9. Lastly, I suggest buying some flameless candles, and putting them in your living environment - especially the bedroom. Whether a flameless tea light, or larger, the soft glow can be very relaxing in the dark. A more inviting environment can truly help you rejuvenate. (It's a little thing I do for myself nightly that's made a big impact.)
May you expand your interest and capacity to be kinder to your "self." May your courage grow daily, while your experiences become richer. May people become kinder to you, as you reinforce your equal "value." May you envision your life in a more positive way. And may healing continue to take place within your heart, mind and soul. God bless you and yours.
Langley's column is published every first Sunday of the month.
She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.