Why You Need to be Kinder to Yourself

About a week ago, I was watching a video and the woman in the video told me to think of the three people in my life that are the most important to me. Immediately, I thought of my mom, my sister, and my grandfather. Thinking I had gotten the right answer, I waited patiently until she said something so surprising that I simply sat there and reflected for several minutes. She simply asked if I was on the list of the people that are the most important to me. It should have been a no brainer that I was on the list because I should consider myself to be important. Yet, I wasn’t. After reading through the comments on this video, I realized that of the over 2,000 comments, most said that they didn’t include themselves either. In today’s society, where we see so much negativity and harsh words being thrown at others, don’t we owe it to ourselves to be kind to yourself first so that you have to tools to be kind to others? According to Dr. Barbara Markway, as a society, people hold on to the belief that by criticizing ourselves, we will change into a better, more social person. In reality, though, the more we tell ourselves to toughen up, the more anxiety we develop. According to Markway, we put up barriers so that we get into this mindset that we do not deserve self-acceptance. Those barriers can include the believing that we are defective or that we’re giving up control over our internal fight. Why is self-compassion and self-acceptance important? According to Dr. Susan David, people who have more self-compassion have a tendency to be more motivated, and in turn, be more successful over a period of time. She explained that while people with more self- compassion understand where they go wrong, but they learn from the experience rather than

getting caught up in the blame game. David also explained that while building self-compassion for yourself, it’s vital to not criticize yourself. To do this, imagine that you are talking to the child version of yourself. Would you punish them if they were struggling with a problem or emotion? No. We would naturally try to comfort and soothe them, which is what we need to do to ourselves when we are struggling. So, how do we build self-compassion for ourselves? There are several different ways, and first we’re going to look at exercises that Dr. Kristin Neff recommends. The exercises include asking yourself how you would treat a friend? Would you say the things that you’re saying to yourself to a friend? If the answer is no, take that as a cue to change not only the words you’re using, but also the way you’re saying them to yourself. Next, keep a self-compassion journal. Write in this journal at the end of each day and go over all of the day’s difficulties with a lens of self-compassion. Life is not perfect, by any standard. If we expect ourselves to be perfect and live up to every impossible standard that we put in place for ourselves, we will continuously feel like we are not good enough. Finding a place within yourself that is both accepting and compassionate is not easy, especially if you have been telling yourself for years that you do not deserve acceptance or compassion. You deserve happiness, and you deserve to be happy with yourself.