Kind-hearted

adjective having a kind and sympathetic nature:

“She was friendly and kind-hearted”

“A kind-hearted local shopkeeper”

 

Kindness

noun [mass noun] the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate:

“He thanked them for their kindness and support.”

[count noun] a kind act:

“It would be a kindness on your part to invite her.”

Definitions from Oxford Dictionary

 

We all know that kindness matters. We are taught at home and school to be kind to others, but where are we taught to be kind to ourselves?

For me, this journey began as an adult, while working through some challenging mental health conditions. While I was doing some really informative and helpful courses to encourage recovery and moving on from being stuck in years and years of self-dislike, and even hatred at times, I started to want to know how to put these new concepts of thinking into action. In particular, I wanted to know how to love myself as I do others, how to be kind to me, especially in my thinking towards myself. I wanted to be really equipped to do this effectively, with positive results that would make a difference to me and as a result of that, to those around me, because I didn’t feel or think I was good enough and had enough tools to use.

Sure, many of us know to take a bit of ‘me’ time by taking a relaxing bath by ourselves, buying a treat every now and again, but what about our attitudes towards ourselves? Our thoughts and words towards ourselves?

As children, whenever we did something unkind, we were told not to do it again, not helped to understand why, or what was wrong about it. This led to feelings of shame, confusion, and hurt at being admonished for doing something we didn’t yet know was wrong and sad for inadvertently angering our parents or carers. A lot of this happened in toddlerhood and continued through to the age where we would remember and have learnt what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. By which time, our self-esteem was impacted by all the things we were told we were, and all the conclusions we had come to about ourselves as a result of what we had heard. Unfortunately, us humans have an unhealthy habit of focusing on the negatives more than the positives.

Could it be possible that if we had been taught in a way that balanced positives and negatives about ourselves that we might not have come to the conclusion that we are “rubbish”? (to quote the words of so many tender young ones I have worked with, in many varying roles, over the last 40 years.)

It’s important to practise kindness to yourself. If you have ever done something wrong or hurtful toward another, please please don’t beat yourself up for it, because I promise you that you won’t be the only one who does something wrong today, yesterday and possibly tomorrow. It doesn’t mean you carry on doing those things, it just means you need to keep remembering and practising. If you get stuck in a cycle of negative thinking and feeling you’re a bad person, remind yourself that you’re still on a journey towards learning these things and remembering how, when and where to put self-compassion into action and give your heart and mind a break, so they can relax into self-acceptance and practise kindness.

As we learn to love ourselves in these ways, we learn to love others in the same ways, until eventually, as we grow and mature, it becomes natural to us.

Contributed by a person who uses our service

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