There are so many tired pieces of advice everywhere – Online, on café walls and scribbled inside street graffiti: Be brave, go beyond, face your fear, treat others the way you want to be treated, give more, expect less.
Worn out, our minds barely respond to them.
Be kind to yourself may sound like a cliche, but bear with me. Last week, I tried a meditation on this app called ‘Stop, Breathe and Think.’ For those of you who think this is going to turn into a hippie rant about the Universe, vibes and positive energy, it’s not.
It was the most human 6 minutes I’ve experienced this year.
The instruction was simple. You repeat a phrase in your mind, mull it over and keep breathing.
‘For any harm that I have caused someone through my thoughts, feelings or actions, I forgive myself.’
Tears rolled down my eyes during the third minute. I’m a softie, but I quickly realized it may be harder for those who aren’t. Generating self-compassion can be a huge challenge.
Fundamentally, when we think of being kind, what occurs to us is an act directed at someone else. We rarely think of channeling kindness to ourselves.
I do everything for me. I think I’m being kind enough.
We can shove external expectations aside. You don’t always need to do things to please people.
The expectations you have of yourself can be harder to shelve, especially in a do-do-do age like ours. When you look in the mirror, it’s hard not to see the flaws. Guilt trips, self-loathing, jealousy and anger are regular parts of our lives now.
For you to recognize that you’re only human and truly move past your baggage – to get over every time you’ve blamed yourself for not trying hard enough, for turning to Netflix instead of doing something productive, for lashing out at a loved one in the heat of the moment, it is a moment of both observation and revelation.
I found clarity: It’s easier to be kind to others when you’re a little more at peace with yourself. It starts with you.