You Know, You Can be Nice All Year (Not Just at the Holidays)
Recently a client of mine and I were talking about the holidays and the fact that during this time of year she’s generally in a better mood. At one point during the conversation she joked and said, “Boy, I wish I could be this nice all year long. So does my family!”
That got me to thinking that a lot of people probably feel this same way. The truth is, we can be nice all year long; it doesn’t just have to be for one month during the winter.
But how do we do this? Clearly if it were easy we would all be so nice it would be almost nauseating – kidding, it would be awesome.
Here’s the simple (but not necessarily easy) truth: If we were nicer to ourselves we would naturally be nicer to each other. Our conduct in the world reflects our conduct with ourselves: If we’re nice to ourselves, we’re nice to others; if we forgive ourselves, we forgive others; if we accept ourselves flaws and all, we accept others flaw and all.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
The problem most of us face is we have been taught that selfishness is a bad thing, and we mistake things like self-care, self-compassion, self-love and self-respect with being self-involved and selfish. We feel it is our duty to instead be self-critical.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but for the love of God, don’t do unto others as you do to yourself!
This Christmas, I want to give you something: Permission to be kind and nice to yourself and to treat yourself with the utmost love and respect and care that you deserve. There is no gift receipt so you can’t take this present back and exchange it for Spanx or an iPhone. Take it, say thank you, unwrap it and put it on and notice how good it feels.
Like many gifts this one comes with instructions on how to use the contents. So, here’s how to be nicer to yourself this year and every year:
Treat Yourself Like a Friend
If your friend calls you upset and tells you their boss chewed them out in front of other colleagues, do you lay into your friend and say, “Well, what did you do? You must have done something to tick them off. You’re always sticking your foot in your mouth and saying the most idiotic things that just annoy people!”
No, you don’t do this. You listen to them and say, “I’m so sorry you had a crap day. Let’s go get a margarita and talk about it.” Seeing as it’s ridiculously easy for all of us to be kind and loving to our friends, it makes sense that we should treat ourselves like our own friend.
The next time you find yourself being mean and critical to you, STOP, and speak to yourself the way you would your best friend.
Recognize You’re Human
The next time you look in the mirror and hate your thighs or the bald spot on top of your head, remember that at that very same moment, somewhere in the world, there are countless other human beings doing exactly same thing. Other women you’ve never met are hating their thin lips and wishing they had poutier ones; other men are hating their height and wishing they could grow five more inches.
Recognizing your flaws means recognizing your humanity. When you do this you don’t feel so isolated and alone, but instead you feel connected to every other human being who is not perfect, because none of us are.
Give to Yourself
Would you even consider telling your kids or your spouse or your parents or sister or BFF that you don’t have time for them? Hell no! You simply wouldn’t. Why is it so fakakta easy to not make any time for ourselves?
If you want to be nice to yourself this year give yourself what you need. Take time every single day to feed your heart, mind and soul. Even if it’s only 30 minutes reading, doing a crossword puzzle or riding your bike around the neighborhood, it will do wonders for your attitude and morale.
An interesting pattern will emerge: just as your kids tend to like you more when you give them stuff they want and they act all nice and like little saints, you’ll start to act nicer to yourself when you give yourself stuff. You’ll appreciate you for being kind to you – when that starts to happen – watch out!
End Toxic Relationships
If you REALLY want to go crazy and be nicer to yourself, you’ll start to be honest with yourself and identify the toxic relationships in your life and END THEM! It won’t be easy, because much of the toxic-ness will be found close to home. You’ll come to terms with the fact that some of your friends are completely negative about everything and depress the hell out of you. You’ll recognize that your own sister is disrespectful and makes you feel less than you are. You may even have a sudden recognition that your significant other is not honest much of the time and constantly makes you question whether you can trust them – never a good thing in a relationship.
While it may seem like you don’t have a choice in the matter, we always have choices. You can set healthy boundaries for starters and if those don’t work, you can end the relationships that are bringing you down and even making you sick. It won’t be easy, but what’s harder – ending a toxic relationship, or living with toxic-ness day after day?
Embrace Your Personal Power
One of the most ‘not nice’ things any of us do to ourselves is play the part of victim. Blaming other people or events for our lot in life gives all of our power away. If we give all of our power away, we have none left to change our lives and we spend the rest of our days as miserable human beings. Good luck being nice to others when you yourself are miserable.
You know why miserable people act miserably? Because they’re miserable! They take no responsibility for the events in their life and they believe there is nothing they can do to make things better. Don’t do this. Be kind to yourself, embrace your personal power, and make the necessary changes so you can be happy and healthy.
Easy Ways to be Nice to Others
Now that you know how to be nicer to yourself this year, you will naturally want to be nicer to others. Here are some easy ways to do that:
- Help people who need it. If you see a mother try to get her child and stroller down a flight of stairs – help. If you see an old man at the grocery store who can’t reach something on the top shelf, help.
- Compliment someone. If you’ve ever been complimented by a total stranger, you know the power it has. If you think someone’s coat is lovely, tell them. If someone has kind eyes, tell them. If someone was helpful to you, let them know how much it means.
- Smile more. Smiling at someone is one of the kindest things you can do. Without you even realizing it, your smile can have a profound effect on another person’s mood and even outlook on life. You would be surprised how powerful smiles can be, so do it more - do it often.
- Don’t talk about people. Gossip is not nice – period, so stop doing it.
- Volunteering is always a win/win – you’ll make a difference in someone’s life and feel great at the same time.
- Give up your seat. If you have a seat on a bus, the subway, or in an airport or waiting room and you see and elderly person, special needs person, or pregnant woman needs a seat – give them yours.
- Listen more and better. We are all so wrapped up in our own lives and the chatter in our heads is constantly going and going, that sometimes we just plain suck at listening to others. Want to be nicer? Listen more and better.
It’s not that hard being nicer to others once you start being nicer to yourself. Once you’re nicer to yourself, you’re nicer to others, which will make you be nicer to yourself, which will make you be nicer to others and ad infinitum.
Devon 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.