The mistake of being kind to yourself – a note to self

These days we’re big on being kind to ourselves.

I am ALL for it. I am all for stopping the barrage of insults. As anyone who has said something like, “oh, I’m such an idiot!” around me can attest, I am likely to respond (in a really annoying and self-righteous way), “hey, enough of that negative self-talk.”

But sometimes I think we take it in the wrong direction.

Being kind to yourself is treating yourself with respect. It’s not indulging the hell out of yourself.

A healthy approach to being kind to yourself could be described as raising a well-adjusted child + athletics training.

– A well-adjusted child isn’t told they are stupid, a failure, hopeless. But they also aren’t given everything they want. When something goes wrong, they are given a hug, encouraged to brush themselves off and get back on the horse. If you decide to give yourself a break from your own harshness, the alternative is not to let yourself get away with murder. Made a mistake at work and feel like hurling insults at yourself? Don’t give yourself a serve, but don’t give into your desire to eat ice cream in bed. No good comes from ice cream in bed. Give yourself a pep-talk. Pat yourself on the back and remember that everyone makes mistakes. Give yourself warmth, discipline and boundaries.

– At the same time, give yourself a rigorous training schedule for life. Push yourself to get out of bed even when you don’t feel like it. Put on your sneakers and go for a run. When your body needs a rest – rest. Even better, don’t wait until your body needs it – make it part of your routine. Rest, not because you earned it, but because your body needs it so that when rest time is over you’ll be ready to train again. All this training will pay off when it comes time to run the race (every day of your life). If you train well and rest well, you’ll have a personal best time you’re proud of.

Being kind to yourself is not about smothering the voice of the mean girl in your head with chocolate or ten episodes of Community. 

Being kind to yourself is expecting of a respectable performance from yourself. It’s holding yourself to a high – but fair – standard, encouraging yourself along the way, and resting as part of the equation of a good performance.

Be the parent, the coach, the friend, the mentor, the doctor and the guru all in one. If you do that there won’t be any more room in your head for the bully or the frenemy.


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