This week is mental health awareness week and the theme for the week is kindness!
Kindness? We hear it a lot don’t we? If we can be anything in life we should be kind. But what is kindness? The Oxford dictionary defines kindness as “the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate” and, there is no time like the present and in these surreal times that we find ourselves in, to be learning the importance of kindness, right now.
Kindness for me though is not just about how we treat others and, particularly when we speak about wellbeing, it begins at home and, it begins with ourselves.
A famous quote by Oscar Wilde says “to love oneself, is the beginning of a life long romance” and, there is only one person that you are destined to be with for the rest of your life, so learning to love yourself is the first step towards self kindness and self compassion.
Self compassion means treating yourself with kindness and care, and being friendly, generous and considerate to yourself in the same way that you would treat a friend and loved one.
It is all too easy sometimes to turn on the negative towards ourselves and, we can be our own worst critic, our internal voice and narrative calling out harsh judgements and reminding us of our faults. We blame ourselves and we shame ourselves for our pain. We abandon ourselves and turn to whatever and whoever else can offer us comfort.
There are many psychological and behavioural strategies for increasing kindness and self compassion and, this exercise is one of my favourites for the simple reason that I love journaling. It is a simple and incredibly healing practice that can really help you.
Taking a blank piece of paper you are going to ask yourself three very important questions.
- What do I need?
- How do I care for myself already?
- What would I say to a friend and how would I say it?
Whenever you find yourself in a situation where your inner critic is being a bit vocal then sit down and go through this exercise. Self compassion and kindness entails nurturing aspects (comforting, soothing, validating) and about action (protecting, providing, motivating) and, depending on the situation you may need different ways of being compassionate with yourself and taking care of yourself, whether you are looking to comfort, soothe or validate yourself.
There are also the times that being kind to yourself means saying no! Something we are not very good at as event professionals and, generally we are not very good at looking after ourselves and coping in ways that are healthy.
Being kind to ourselves also means not judging ourselves harshly for not being perfect. It means not holding ourselves to impossibly high standards and, it means putting an end to constantly comparing ourselves to others and, beating ourselves up for making a mistake. We need to allow ourselves to be the beautiful, imperfect and, unique human beings that we are. To quote Oscar Wilde again “be yourself, everyone else is taken”.
There are many paths to wellbeing, growth and self kindness. The success of your path will depend on one fundamental caveat “it’s not what you do, but why you do it”. When we are struggling we should practice self compassion not to feel better, but because we feel bad. It is those who understand this very simple yet profound wisdom behind self compassion and kindness that go on to thrive.
So the next time you are feeling bad, carve out some time for yourself, give yourself some recognition, forgive yourself, respect yourself, treat yourself, soothe yourself and remember to take good care of yourself.
When times are difficult seeking comfort in our own unconditional goodwill towards ourselves could become the lifeline for our personal wellbeing. Remember that you deserve your kindness, as the Buddhist saying goes “you yourself, as much as anyone else in the entire universe, deserves your love and affection”.
Helen Moon | CEO, EventWell