A Valentine Gift for the Grumps
Let this be the year you decide to be kind to yourself. This doesn’t mean making excuses for yourself. No, no. Kindness includes encouragement, direction, clarity and PLENTY of repetition until old patterns are revised.
Kindness contains patience, persistence, and most importantly, a loving attitude. It is firm, but not mean. Direct, but not demeaning. Kindness finds the humor in the mistakes and the beauty in the mundane. Kindness is honesty that begins with yourself. Take it on and your life will be transformed.
Flow, not force, is the way to get where you want to go and it’s how to become who you want to be.
True change only happens when a new mindset inhabits the space where old habits and beliefs have been holding down the fort for years — maybe decades! No matter how resolute you are, nothing new will happen while you are pushing the same boulder up the same hill, year after year.
Kindness is a revolutionary and the evolutionary way to expand the filters of your mind to see different possible outcomes and solutions. When you treat yourself with the consideration you were told to extend to others — magic happens. As you become less harsh, demanding, and chronically negative toward yourself, your unfounded fears diminish and your attention shifts away from judging others and yourself to a more useful. You shift to a mindset that includes compassion, humor, and optimism.
As you revise your old mental habits, new opportunities and creative solutions will arrive in your life as faithfully as you expected obstacles and frustrations. With a new attitude, you can expect help and solutions to appear instead of self-doubt and fear.
Being kind to yourself has two sides:
1. Dialing back what causes you grief 2. And adding things that bring you joy
So, where to start? Give yourself a breath or two for noticing, interrupting, challenging, and redirecting your negative thoughts every time one shows up. It will happen more often than you expect.
Do this with kindness and humor. Be consistency until you become aware of just how unaware you have been about this. You will begin to tip the scales. Your will begin to interrupt your negative thoughts and this is the beginning of replacing the old habits with real kindness.
Break these habits first:
MEANING MAKING & MIND READING: This is one way we keep ourselves misunderstood and confused. It is the act of refusing to ask what others mean and assuming others know (or should know) what we mean. Assuming we know what people are thinking or feeling and pretending that our assumptions are the objective reality isn’t healthy. Nope. Nope. Nope.
CAREFULNESS: This includes withholding, lying, being nice, and manipulating so that you stay miserable, angry and disappointed. This covers many ways that you were taught to pretend that you think, want, and feel something other than what you really think, want, and feel. That’s not only a waste of time and energy, but all that hoop-jumping has zero kindness in it. Not kind to you. Not kind to the people in your life.
What is the remedy? Practice clarifying yourself and asking for clarification. Say what you mean until what you mean has been said. Be precise. Be honest. Don’t hint suggest or beat around the bush. ASK others what they think and feel when you catch yourself assuming that you know.
Clarification is the antidote to believing your own bullshit.
The other side of kindness includes giving yourself time for play, friends, rest, creativity, and pleasure.
With that in mind, here are four quick ways to be kinder to yourself starting right now:
1. Morning Time: Create a 15 minute morning routine without the phone or humans firing up your brain. If necessary hide in the bathroom, but let your day start with a little pleasure rather than panic. Breathe, stretch, gaze out the window, daydream, meditate…just ease into it.
2. Put “play time” right on your calendar with as much authority as you write in a dentist appointment. Use that time (90 minutes is a good start) to do whatever feels like play to you. Read, meet a friend, play a game, nap, garden, or get a massage.
3. Move your body! Take care of the machinery regularly, and in a fun, pleasing way — dance, have athletic sex, take a class that excites you, hike, play a sport, ride a horse. Whatever floats your boat!
4. Don’t forget silliness and laughter. Deliberately and regularly add some laughs to your life. Watch some comedy instead of the news, play Pictionary with your friends, read comics — let your inner kid out.
You are worth your own time and attention. You are worthy of your own love and affection. Your life has hidden nuggets of joy and pleasure just waiting for you to find them through being kind.