Kindness is an inside job....
💭 Being kind to others starts with being kind to yourself. I will go out of my way to be kind, and it is in my nature to want to take the "high road," to "go the extra mile," and all those fun cliches! 😝 Of course, it gets more complicated than those simple old sayings would make it seem. Sometimes, it feels like I run out of resources from prioritizing being kind to others in my interactions all day long, before I can show myself any of that same love/kindness. I feel positive from helping other people, and I am happy.... but sometimes I feel too tired to bother to show myself love or gratitude. Praising myself or thanking myself doesn't come naturally to me at the best of times, so when I am drained it feels darn near impossible! I feel so drained and overwhelmed, I can’t even function, let alone be kind to anyone!
If I try to keep pushing forward beyond that point, keep on working towards my goals without taking a few minutes to give myself a breather, or a second for some self-care, I start to feel SO overwhelmed. My tone becomes dismissive, frustrated, uninterested.... without my consent! Sometimes, it all just feels like TOO MUCH, and I find myself lashing out at the unsuspecting person who thinks they are just trying to strike up a conversation with me, or ask me a simple question. Of course, I don’t mean to lash out, I genuinely want to show love and kindness with EVERYTHING I do, but hey....No shame in admitting the struggle. I slip up sometimes. I'm not perfect and perfection is not my goal. My goal is to just be a little better than I was yesterday.
When I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed, sometimes I have to first notice, and then stop my inner dialogue. I am actively working on some "quality control" with my inner voice- the way I allow myself, to talk to myself.... because I don’t know about anyone else, but I can be so 👏 damn 👏 MEAAAAAANNNN 😳 to myself. And what is up with that??! I am so much meaner to myself than I could ever even THINK of being toward someone else! And I am not a mean person, by nature. A lot of the language I heard growing up was negative, and with the help of my therapist, I am really getting down to the roots of why I am predisposed to negative inner dialogue. If you struggle with negative self-talk as well, I really recommend discussing it with a therapist. It can be so relieving to have someone else work through it with you. According to my therapist (who is much more of an expert than I am- I only know my experiences and what I learned in my psychology degree courses), many of us struggle with this problem because of the type of language that we heard growing up. A lot of the sweeping criticisms I heard as a small child, have taken up permanent residence in my brain, and like to play themselves on repeat when I am feeling down. The good news is- they don't have to stay there! We can take back that control, and replace those negative patterns with uplifting ones!
I’m working on replacing those negative, self-deprecating thought patterns that seem to crop up with stressful situations, with new, positive, loving ones. Like instead of looking at a pressing task and setting my tone with, “I haven’t done this yet,” which for me sometimes lead to straight up, “I suck”.... I am working to replace that line of thinking with “I am working towards ____,” or "I am in the process of becoming ______." I’m trying to show respect for the process of growth, not just the results.
But it’s easier said than done.... that’s for sure. One day at a time.
Portrait by @arthouse.thierry.1 for MPL Studios