There is a story about a tribe in the Solomon islands. When very large trees need to be felled, people of this tribe gather around and curse the trees. They do this for days on end. Inevitably, in the face of all the negativity, the massive trees wither and fall down on their own- (Original story source: All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten, Robert Fulghum)
‘If I were as critical and unkind to my friends as I am to myself, I will soon have no friends left’- source unknown.
We are conditioned to think that being self-critical is normal. We subscribe to the fear that if we stop comparing and leveling ourselves to someone else, we are failures. We are primed to believe that our self-worth is dependent on how we perceive anyone else sees us. Our happiness and self-respect is dependent on people and things we have no control over. We are so afraid to embrace what makes us, us. And here is the paradox: What we cannot give ourselves of love, kindness and respect, we expect and even demand from others.
Try this little exercise. On any regular day, keep a journal of the negative statements you subject your mind and your body to. How many ‘I am not good enough…’ , ‘I should have…’, ‘ I shouldn’t have…’, ‘Compared to him/her I am…’, ‘I am a failure because…’, ‘I am a victim of …’, ‘I am angry with myself because…’, ‘I don’t have time to nurture my body because…’ or similar statements come up?
If you were to subject someone you love to all that negativity, I am willing to bet that your dynamics with that person will change for the worse fairly quickly. If you will not subject someone you love to this exercise, why do you subject yourself to the same?
Now think of your baggage from the past. How much of it do you lug around with you everyday? Now consider the future. How much anxiety and fear does the future stream into you.
Imagine for a minute being free of all the negativity, baggage and anxiety. Imagine being aligned completely with the present. How much more energy and happiness will be available for you if you did not carry the past and the future around with you!
Giving yourself the permission to walk without negativity, in the present, without the weights of the past or anxieties of things to be, is perhaps one of the deepest gifts of kindness you can give yourself.
Here are a few more thoughts on self-kindness to consider and practice :
- Realize that being kind to oneself is not being selfish. It is not self-pity.
- Make time and space for the things and relationships that nourish you physically, mentally and spiritually (exercise, meditation, spending quality time with family)
- Practice forgiveness. Let go of anger and hate. One little act at a time. You will be surprised how much of happiness and freedom is hidden underneath.
- Cultivate the habit of loving kindness for your self. Spend a few minutes everyday appreciate the good things about you. Write a letter to yourself about the things that make you invaluable.
- Slow down. It is easy to lose purpose in the rush of living. But purpose is what makes life worth living. Take time to stop and breathe and appreciate living. Re-evaluate and re-focus often. Be grateful for everything.
May you be filled with love and compassion for yourself.
Consider also trying this simple but effective Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) exercise:
Words have a lot of power. They can add or detract energy from you.Value statements are statements that positively affirm your personal goals of success, love and peace. Examples of value statements include ‘I am exactly where I should be in time’, ‘I am unique and beautiful’ and ‘I am bigger than any challenge that I will be faced with’. It is critical that any value statements you create are uniquely authentic to you. After you create your value statements, keep them close to your mind and lips. Make a habit of observing your thoughts. Whenever negative messages come up inside you, interrupt and replace them with your value statements. Create a conscious habit of doing this. See how the your personal happiness and self-worth shift over time.