How to be Kind to Yourself

by Faira Butt

Theme: Woman, where are you?

My name is Faira, I work as a sexual violence advocate for Humraaz Support Services. I have always been a advocate for female empowerment, especially for BAME women. I have chosen to write about something close to me and around an experience I recently went through when I became a new mum to my beautiful baby girl. This specific experience is based around my birthing experience which did not go as I had wanted or imagined when my baby girl arrived exactly one week early before her expected due date. The piece is about being kind to yourself and being able to move forward from difficult situations.

Ok, so we know generally for the physical aspect that this phrase means take time out for yourself, buy yourself that one thing you’ve had your eye on because you work hard and deserve it, pamper yourself etc etc. This is great and I believe in this aspect of self care and being kind to yourself. But what does this do for you mentally and emotionally?

 I really believe this is much deeper than just those things. For example if you’re living with some sort of regret how do you be kind to yourself and move forward from that, knowing you cannot go back in time and change that situation no matter how bad you wish you could. I know for me I always look back think to myself that I should have known better or dealt with “that” situation better but how do I be KIND to myself when the pain of being unable to change a situation or being able to go back in time is out of my control. 

Pampering myself or buying myself that one thing I’ve had my eye on will not change anything and feels more of a mask to cover the pain of not being able to change the situation at times.

I think being kind to yourself has various levels and layers. I think it’s very important to have some sort of self-care routine or time out for yourself. So for example doing the pampering or reading a book or taking a walk, but I want to start talking about the emotional and mental aspect of this and why we find it so difficult to be kind to ourselves in this manner. 

Do we find it selfish, do we think its cringe or do we just not know how to do it? Where have we learnt this behaviour is through our childhood, or teenage years? 

One thing definitely comes to mind, perhaps it’s the pain of not being able to go back and change which leaves us feeling we don’t deserve to be kind to ourselves. And what we cannot give ourselves, we find so easily to be able to give to others, which in turn fills us from the pain we feel of not being able to go back and change a certain situation. 

We are so understanding and patient of those around us, even when they treat us very wrong and yet we cannot extend that same patience and understanding to ourselves, why is this??

When we are kind to other people, we pay them attention, we offer warmth, affection, generosity, without judging whether the circumstances necessarily deserves it. Kindness isn’t a reward for good behaviour, or because we want something. We are considerate. 

We think of actions that the other person will appreciate, and we give without expecting anything back. Being kind is an action of abundance, not scarcity.

It can be very hard. It takes precious time. If we try to pay ourselves attention, feel generous towards ourselves, look at ourselves with affection and compassion, a whole bunch of blocking beliefs may get activated. Such as: I don’t deserve kindness; I did something really stupid and I don’t want to do it again; I’m lazy; I need to push myself and keep nagging at myself. 

Each of us has a set of beliefs  tailored to ourselves that we have established over our lifetime, usually from childhood, beliefs that seemed helpful then, to make sense of the world around us, and protect ourselves. Sometimes we can be angry with the whole idea. “Yes, but I want someone else to look after me and care for me!”

There is a yearning in many of us to be nurtured and looked after and told and reassured that everything will be ok, often with its roots in our very early childhood. The reality of doing this for ourselves is one of the challenges of growing up. And whilst we hope others will look after us and nurture us, our capacity to love others, and to accept their love for us is enhanced by our capacity to be kind to ourselves.

Mentally how do we forgive ourselves and be kind, we can use affirmations, we can tell ourselves that we know better, we can do better and emotionally we can find comfort through talking, writing and trying to focus on our positives and try to lead with them but its almost as if we feel tarnished from flaws and negatives which in turns does not allow us to truly be proud of our positives and gives us the green light to be kind to ourselves.

In conclusion, I do not have the answers for this or any fast-track way to tackle this deep rooted issues which many face but I can say is it takes a lot of brain power to consciously understand different factors effecting you, understanding and accepting that you’re human and not perfect, trying to follow and flourish with the flow of life. 
For me life is like a river, you might crash against a rock, you might face severe weather and other times you will be flowing along peacefully on a beautiful warm summer’s day. But the expectation that everyday will be like that puts a lot of pressure to replicate that same emotion. 

Once we learn that it really is ok and important to experience the crash against the rock or the severe weather, can we be more open; to truly being able to be kinder to ourselves.

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