Stop Being a Jerk and Be Nicer to Yourself
Henry James once said, “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”
The guy had a point, although I’d like to amend his original thought, “Three things in human life are important: the first is ice cream, preferably Ben & Jerry’s, the second is to be kind to others, the third is to be kind to yourself, and the fourth is ice cream.”
I had a wonderful mentor who instilled in me the idea that I was to be a kind and compassionate human being when I went out into the world. For years, each day as I headed out the door to school or to play she would say the exact same thing, “Have a nice day – you make a nice day.” This is actually, I think, a wonderful message to send your children to help them be aware of how their actions affect others. Yes, have a great day and make sure you don’t act like an idiot and ruin someone else’s.
The problem was, while my mentor was someone who cared greatly about those around her, she treated herself like proverbial sh*t. Her self-esteem couldn’t have been lower. So, consequently, I grew up following her lead, making sure I went above and beyond for others while believing I was a pile of garbage whose needs didn’t matter in the least. When it came to making sure I was okay mentally, physically and emotionally, I did little, if anything. Now that’s not very nice.
Self-Love is a Habit
Like fitness, self-love and kindness is a habit. If you’ve spent the last 10, 20, or 30 years treating yourself like crap, it is going to seem very weird and even down right WRONG to start caring about yourself.
But, self-love and kindness is essential to quality of life, and persistence is the key to establishing new kindness habits.
With this in mind, here are some simple ways you can begin your self-love journey and start being kinder to yourself every day.
Be Kind – Even to Your Inner Critic
When it comes to being unkind to ourselves, we typically have help in the form of our inner critics. These voices in our head say things about us that we would never DREAM of saying about others!
“You’re fat and disgusting, no wonder you’re still single.”
“Can you try and not f*ck things up this time?”
“God, you’re stupid.”
“You’ve completely wasted your life and it’s too late now.”
There are two keys to quieting these critical comments once and for all:
1) Don’t try and fight fire with fire.
By that I mean, don’t scream and yell and tell your inner critic to SHUT UP! Your inner critic is still a part of you and you must start your transformation by being gentle with this vicious voice.
You know the old saying, “Kill them with kindness,” well, that saying applies very much to killing your inner critic. If you’re nice to your inner critic, it will be stunned into silence because it simply doesn’t understand kindness.
So, when you speak to your inner critic, do so as if you were speaking to a 3-year-old that is having a temper tantrum.
2) Find Proof of the Untruth
This voice is a creation of programming and suggestions from the outside world. It speaks only in untruths because it has not been told anything different. Speaking to it gently, you are going to offer up proof that what it says is simply not true.
For instance, if the voice says, “Why are you so f*cking stupid?” … you say, kindly and gently, “I’m sorry, you must be thinking of someone else. I actually have a BA in finance and many highly intelligent friends, whom I doubt very much would want to hang out with me were I, in fact, stupid. Plus, I just used “whom” correctly, so there’s that.”
By gently proving your inner critic wrong on a consistent basis, you will shut them down for good.
One of the kindest things you can do is help yourself relax more. Most of us are under constant stress and it’s bad for our hearts, minds and bodies. How do you prefer to de-stress? Hot bath with a glass of Cabernet? Biking around the neighborhood? Reading in a hammock? Make sure to set aside time each day to pamper yourself and chill out.
Get into the Habit of Appreciating Yourself
Take a few minutes every evening before bed to think of something you appreciate about yourself. It could be your sense of humor or your pretty feet. Maybe you make excellent gazpacho or help rescue animals. It can be absolutely anything, big or small, just get into the habit of knowing how awesome you are.
Keep Developing Yourself
Some of you may be too young to remember Polaroid pictures. Man those were cool. You’d snap a picture with a Polaroid camera, it would pop out the back, and you’d stare at it as it slowly… slowly… slowly developed until you finally had a clear, colorful image.
All of us are kind of like Polaroid images. We need to keep developing ourselves. How do we do this? By constantly learning and exposing ourselves to new ideas, people, and situations. Take a class, read a challenging book, try learning stick-shift. It doesn’t matter what you do, just keep on developing yourself and never stop.
Just Say No
This will be the most challenging kindness habit for a majority of people. Saying no to friends, family and colleagues who need something just feels so bad and wrong.
Let me tell you something. That feeling eventually goes away and then it actually feels good. Kind of like when you start working out and your muscles are tight and burn because they are not used to being used all that much. Eventually your muscles feel good from exercise.
I promise you, saying no gets easier.
Now, I’m not insisting you become a Diva or an absolute jerk and never offer your time or support of others. I’m just saying make sure to balance your yeses and your no’s so you don’t burn yourself by consistently putting your needs last.
Be nicer to yourself and you will be amazed at how your life changes.
Devon Herndon is a Licensed Professional Clinical/Substance Abuse Counselor, Personal Life Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, and a nationally certified teacher. She is committed to helping young people be their highest selves in all areas: body, mind, and spirit. Her expertise, enthusiasm, energy and educational background serve to create a unique blend of services and techniques employed to help you reach your goals. For counseling sessions, coaching, or training, please contact her at 505.469.0779 or firstname.lastname@example.org.