We learn from a very young age that showing kindness to others is good, admirable, wise. We are taught to forgive our peers their trespasses, be patient with friends and family, offer support and love and understanding to all who seek it.
And we learn from a very young age that showing kindness to ourselves is a sign of weakness. Delicious foods are reserved for special occasions, and constitute “indulgence.” Massages, long naps, yoga, facials, and other practices that restore and refresh our bodies fall under “pampering.” Celebrating our bodies through stylish clothing and expressive makeup is chalked up to “vanity.” And, above all, we are taught that the natural forms our genes have sculpted from our precious human cells merit nothing but dissatisfaction and disappointment. Just as we are driven to be competitive and successful in our achievements, we are driven to be self-critical and unkind about our appearances. Somehow, somewhere, someone decided that kindness is something that can only be bestowed on others.
But I’m here to tell you that being kind to yourself is vital. It is vital in the original meaning of the word: It is necessary for the maintenance of life. Being constantly unkind to yourself erodes your confidence, diminishes your self-worth, and extinguishes your individuality. Giving all your kindness away and reserving none for your own body, mind, and soul leaves you dry and empty. Eventually, you’ll have nothing left to give.
And no matter what you’ve been led to believe, you deserve kindness. From others and, most especially, from yourself. For starters, you deserve delicious food and naps and gorgeous shoes. But more than those easy-access kindnesses, you deserve the same forgiveness and patience and understanding that you offer to others. You deserve to see your body, not as a collection of mistakes or flaws or challenges, but as a complete, organic, amazing form to be revered and adored. You deserve to look in the mirror and see a woman radiant with potential, brimming with beauty, and worthy, worthy, worthy.
Be gentle and accepting with yourself and self-love will find you.
And, above all, be kind to yourself.
Image courtesy otabi.