“I met someone that was unkind to me. He treated me as if my life and my feelings and my essence did not matter. I felt used, abused and trashed. I felt like dirt and I felt dirty. He lured me in with pretty words and he made sure that I was as hooked on his bait like a fish to a lure. I didn’t see it coming. I was in such desperate need to have those words and thoughts said to me that I didn’t see what was really happening. I became unkind to myself.”
A client came to me a few months ago and this is how our conversation started. She was devastated and feeling down on herself. Since our initial coaching session there have been tiny breakthroughs and the breakthrough that seems to be helping pull her out of her sense of worthlessness is kindness. My client discovered the power of kindness when I asked her how she expresses kindness to herself. How was she expressing kindness to herself , her essence when she allows someone to have such influence over her emotions and thoughts?
We all need reassurance and validation. It’s okay to fall off the top of the “I like me” cheerleader pile. Making sure you get back up is the hard part but no matter what you have to do, get back up. We have to find a way to restore ourselves to rights when we get knocked down. How do you show kindness to yourself when someone has not been kind to you, even if that someone was you?
I think Plato said it best and true when he said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” In the months following my initial session with my client, she has come to realize that along with forgiveness of self and of this unkind person, comes the realization that her self-worth would benefit from not being wrapped up in someone else’s actions. This guy that was unkind to her was definitely dealing with some deep personal issues regarding women and she just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The question now is, what lessons can be learned strongly and deeply enough that compassion and kindness become the rule and the norm?
American humorist and writer Sam Levenson understood what women really needed when he
wrote what I have come to refer to as the Bobby Brown commandment book of becoming an awesome woman:
“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it at least once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. As you grow older you will discover that you have 2 hands; one for helping yourself and one for helping others.”
There have been too many times in my life that I have let a low sense of self-worth get the better of me. As I’ve gotten older I have realized that one quick way to help alleviate the pain of that personal despair is to help someone. Getting out of my own way, getting to the business of kindness toward others is a sure fire way to leave myself behind and make someone else feel like a winner. It’s very simple really and you have heard me say this so many times before, other people matter. So ultimately someone else is going through just what I am going through therefore I am not alone. And because I am not alone I will reach out, share my story and heal, not only my heart but the heart of someone else.
Recently I committed to volunteer and teach a creative writing class to a group of middle school children through the Boys and Girls Club of America. I am so excited to work with them. It is an uplifting way for me to give not only of my time but of my passion. It gets me out of my own head and into the thought processes of children that carry hope and possibility through their veins. For me, this is an exercise in kindness; the giving of myself to the betterment of others. I like that….
“When you are feeling bad about yourself or your life, do something you love. Make sure that the thing you love to do is good for you. Make sure that it will not hurt anyone else. Make sure that while you are doing it, you remind yourself of all the ways you can be more loving, more supportive, and more encouraging TO YOURSELF.” – Iyanla Vanzant
One great step in helping my client through her awareness of kindness was to start her on a personal kindness journey. Here is a small list of personal kindness steps you can take right now so that you can spread kindness from the inside out:
Speak patiently and lovingly to yourself: Whenever you start to feel like you want to berate yourself for a job not done so well, stop, take a deep breath and turn the words around. Take it one word at a time. Think in baby steps about all of the great things that happened along the way toward the end of the job. What did you accomplish? What do you like so far? What personal values are you bringing right now that let you know you are worthy? How did you forgive yourself for falling short of your values today?
“If I knew your thoughts, I would know what you are, for your thoughts make you who you are. By changing our thoughts, we can change our lives.” – Dale Carnegie
Smile: We have tried this exercise before. Look in the mirror and force a smile on your face. It will feel awkward and strange and weird and silly. Good. Play around with different ways to smile. Then go out and smile at people at the grocery store. How many times did you notice a smile in return or kind eyes staring back at you? How much more at peace and how much more happy do you feel because you smiled? How did you appreciate yourself today? When were you filled with pride for yourself today? How many times did you catch yourself feeling love for yourself today? Self-compassion is as important as compassion for other people. Practice on yourself and it will be natural to show to others.
This quote can easily be read and adapted to be personal….
“One of the most spiritual things you can do is to embrace your humanity. Connect with those around you today. Say, “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, “I appreciate you”, “I’m proud of you”…whatever you are feeling. Send random texts, reminders, write a cute note, embrace your truth and share it…cause a smile today for someone else…and give plenty of hugs.” – Steve Maraboli
Create an encouragement jar: Lots of people have a bad habit of using foul language. In an attempt to break their bad habit they put the nasty word in a jar each time the nasty word is spoken out loud and create a fine or punishment in order to help them turn it around. The opposite is just as helpful. For each time you start to get down on yourself, quickly think of something encouraging to balance the negative personal thought. Put the encouraging word in a jar and see how many times in one week you broke the bad habit of discouragement. Before you know it the encouragement jar will be so full you might need more than one.
“Encouragement from any source is like a drop of rain upon a parched desert.” –Claire Gillian
Forgive yourself: This is a hard one for sure and the angel and devil have at it when forgiveness looms. Forgiveness starts with learning. Did you know better and ignore it? Did you learn something from a negative experience? Allow forgiveness and it will be easier to forgive others too.
“Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim; letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.” – C.R. Strahan
Show gratitude: Gratitude can show up in many forms. Gratitude can look like giving, listening, stillness, meditation and acceptance. Speak out loud all that you are grateful for in any moment, day, week, month, or year. The more you hear your own voice sincerely speaking gratitude the more your body will start to relax and build self-worth.
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” — Epicurus
Activate your soul: Go for a bike ride, spend time in nature, read a book that makes you happy, listen to your favorite music while you make dinner or do laundry, end your day with a laugh, wash your face at the end of the day, take a bubble bath by candle light, grow something, learn to play an instrument, clean a room, bake your favorite cookie….
“Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.” –Walt Whitman
Call to Action
How do you show kindness to yourself and/or to others?
How do you feel when kindness reveals itself?
Where in your body do you feel kindness first, strongest?