Self-Kindness Matters: Part 3
By Tyler Clemmons, LCSW
I hope that since the last post, you have been able to take small or big steps to be generous toward yourself.
For this post, I want to discuss one last aspect of self-kindness: being considerate toward yourself. Again, I would like to start by talking about what it means to be considerate by looking at how a considerate person acts. Someone who is considerate is respectful toward others. They show respect by considering other’s thoughts and feelings when they are interacting with them. They may take time and care to think about how what they say or do may make others feel. It can be a big challenge to treat others like this, and sometimes an even bigger challenge to treat ourselves like this. Next time you become frustrated with yourself, I encourage you to try to be considerate toward yourself by reflecting on your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
First, take time to consider the reasons you are having a thought about a particular situation. Reflect on how your internal dialogue (the messages that we tell ourselves) leads you to feel. We all have internal dialogue, or thoughts about situations that we experience. I encourage you to take time to consider how this internal dialogue is leading you to feel this week. This may sound familiar because it directly relates to friendliness.
There may be times that you find yourself questioning your parenting or professional skills because a certain situation is not going the way you want at home or work:
What are you telling yourself about the situation?
It is okay to become upset with ourselves, or wish we had done things differently.
Is your internal dialogue focused on beating yourself up, or is it geared toward patience and growth from your mistakes or limitations?
Try to take time to consider all angles of a situation and give yourself grace to learn from the challenging times.
Next, take some time to reflect on your feelings. Sometimes we get upset at ourselves for how we feel.
Have you ever felt depressed and then felt even more depressed about feeling depressed?
Have you felt angry about something someone said to you, and then felt angry that you let what they said upset you?
I think it is normal to start getting angry about being angry or sad about being sad, but it is emotionally draining, and it can be a tough cycle to break.
I encourage you to take time to accept those feelings and consider, without judgment, why you are experiencing them. There could be many reasons why you feel the way you feel. Some of us are more prone to feeling anxiety, depression, anger and other emotions.
Our experiences also shape us. We all have memories that influence how we perceive a situation. Sometimes those memories are explicit; we think about a previous experience and consciously relate that to our experience now. For example: you vividly remember all five times your child has rolled his eyes at you this week, so you feel increasingly annoyed each time he does it.
Sometimes the memories are implicit; we experience a sensation or feeling based on a previous experience but may not consciously connect why we feel that way right away. Like when you hear a song and feel happy but don’t realize why, until you take some time to think about it and remember a pleasant memory associated with it. Our feelings can be shaped by so many factors.
"It is okay to feel the way you feel."
Lastly, consider how the things you do affect your daily life. One of the core concepts of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is that our thoughts, emotions, and actions all influence each other. For example: I could wake up one morning feeling down. If I stay in bed, I am likely to keep feeling down, but if I get out of bed and go for a walk in the sunshine, I am likely to feel at least a little better. Our actions can contribute to the thoughts we think and emotions we feel.
This takes us back to the previous blog post about generosity. If we are engaged in actions that are generous toward ourselves, this will have some influence over the way we think and feel. When we take care of ourselves, we feel better. If you reflect on your actions from your past week and realize that you have not been treating yourself well, don’t worry; it is never too late to start caring for yourself.
I encourage you to practice self- kindness by being considerate toward yourself. Give yourself grace when you do not live up to your own standards. Reflect on your feelings and thoughts with kindness, considering what has led you to be where you are in this moment.
This series has focused on three aspects of self-kindness: being friendly, generous, and considerate. I hope that it has been as helpful and encouraging for you to read this, as it has been for me to write. I encourage you to take time to build yourself up and be kind.