When we love and value ourselves just as we are, we empower ourselves to become all that we can be. We then can better love and value others, for we realize that everyone is a precious child of God and understand that no one is of greater or lesser value than another.
When we are kind to ourselves, we nurture ourselves,set healthy boundaries, and do not try to run faster than we can walk. When we feel compassion for ourselves, we refuse to compare ourselves to others. Because we honor our own gifts and potential, we can also celebrate the gifts and potential of others.
Consider the ways that we can be kind to ourselves:
1. Honor and respect your body. Realize that because you are wonderfully made, you do not need to compare your physical appearance to others. When you are kind to your body, you choose a healthy lifestyle. You eat nutritious foods, exercise when possible, and schedule time for sleep and rest. You do not compare yourself to others but honor and cherish your body as a precious gift from God.
2. Choose to remember kind thoughts about yourself and others. Although it is easy to think negatively about ourselves, harboring critical or shame-filled thoughts, we can recognize those thoughts when they appear and then release them. It may be helpful to memorize a positive affirmation or two to help during times when our inner dialogue becomes stuck in negative thinking patterns. Here are a few suggestions: I feel safe and protected. I am always loved. I can handle anything that comes into my life. I am beautifully and wonderfully made. I am at peace in my own body. I relish in the experience of life. I transmit harmony to everyone I meet. I am whole and complete. I move easily with the flow of life. I choose to experience kindness and compassion.
3. Release shame and guilt. When we experience shame, we believe we are unworthy of love, that we are defective. When we remember that we are a divine child of God, we realize that we are innately precious and powerful. Guilt can be a healthy emotion when it motivates us to turn away from a self-destructive choice and replace it with a self-compassionate one. However, staying stuck in guilt-filled thoughts can keep us from turning away from negative behavior and turning to a Higher Power.
4. Forgive yourself. Accept the fact that because none of us is perfect, each of us will make our share of mistakes while we are on this mortal journey. We can remain stuck in our guilt, learn from our mistakes and try not to repeat them, or give up trying to become whole because we refuse to forgive ourselves. As we release our need to be perfect, we can pursue a path of wholeness and peace.
5. Celebrate your talents and gifts. Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it was stupid.” Discover your gifts and then use them to bless the life of someone else. Each of us has the ability to make life more beautiful and happy not only for ourselves but for others as we develop and then share our talents.
6. Set healthy boundaries. Sometimes we are kinder to others than we are to ourselves. If we are finding ourselves burned out, worn out, or fed up with the demands of others, we need to learn to say “no,” to delegate wisely, or to pace ourselves in our efforts to meet the needs of those whom we love. We need to take the time to care for ourselves so that we can care for others in positive ways.
7. Live in a spirit of gratitude. Thank God daily for the blessings that you enjoy. Receive service and love from others with an open heart. As we recognize and appreciate the many spiritual and material gifts that we enjoy, we live in a spirit of kindness. We are less prone to compare ourselves to others, to envy others, or to criticize ourselves and others. When we are truly thankful for all that we have, we see life through the lens of contentment and peace. And, that contentment creates feelings of joy, kindness, happiness, goodness, and patience. I love the words of Meister Eckhart, who wrote, “If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”
When we stop and think about it, isn’t everyone worthy of our kindness. Then, too, are you.
© Carol Brown