Hope For The Journey

Kindness Starts
From Within

Practicing Kindness Is Hard

In my last post, I talked about bringing more kindness into my home with my family. Well, it’s been a week of that and guess what? It was hard. It’s funny because I don’t consider myself an unkind person. In fact, I often get pegged by others as being a particularly nice person. I’m in a helping profession. I volunteer. If I know you are sick and have the time, I will cook up some homemade chicken noodle soup. Who would have thought it would be so hard to be consistently kind to the ones I love the most?

But it is. It’s hard. I slipped up often and felt completely caught in a web of negativity.

Kindness Depends On How You Treat Yourself

Even though I wanted to be kind and show patience, I was feeling very unkind and impatient with myself. In fact, as soon as I would slip up, a negative thought would slide right in to sting me. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that sinking, tightening feeling in your gut followed by the little devil floating over your shoulder whispering things like, What a loser. Here you go again! What a bad mom/wife/daughter/fill-in-the-blank. And then, just for fun, the flash memory of the hurt you caused keeps playing over and over in your head.

Negative Self-Talk Can Lead to Avoidance 

Obviously, the impulse, at this point, is to just shut down. Many people do. We start out focusing on being kind, but we find instead that the focus shines a spotlight on everything we’re doing wrong. So, maybe we reach for a glass of wine. Or say forget it and zone out with Facebook or TV. Or maybe we use this as a good excuse to eat something naughty. I noticed a lot of these tendencies coming up for me this week. I wish I could say I always took the high road, but I did not. I fell into the trap of telling myself that I deserved a break. I didn’t get much done and as the week progressed, I got more and more down on myself.

Funny thing is, the more I took these “breaks”, the worse I felt…and the less patient I was with my family. Suddenly, it hit me. If I want to be more kind to my family, maybe I should start with being more kind to myself. Remember that little devil whispering sweet nothings in my ear about how bad a person I am? I would never say things like that to someone else. In fact, if someone started talking to my kid that way, I’d say they were teetering on bullying and jump all over it.

Change Is Hard

The fact is, it’s hard to change. And paying closer attention to ourselves is going to reveal more of the cracks simply because we’re paying closer attention. But the cracks were already there and acknowledging them doesn’t have to result in a beat down. While we might not be able to stop the critical thoughts all together (after all, they’re just the warning signs that something’s wrong—just like when we snapped at our family member in the first place), but we can change how we respond to them.

Self-Compassion Is The Key

So, here’s the take-away for this week. Instead of allowing the critical self-thoughts to continue and to react by numbing myself, I’m going to focus on doing something really nice in those moments. Maybe I’ll give myself a little pep talk or take a moment to stretch or think about something positive and uplifting. Are you with me? If we support each other, we have more of a chance at success. Is there anyone else out there willing to take a kindness challenge towards yourself? If so, let me know in the comments and we can encourage each other. Kindness starts from within, but it takes a village.

Hope For The Journey is a counseling group out of Round Rock and Austin, Texas. We help kids, adults, parents, and partners to survive and thrive after trauma, particularly sexual traumas. If you or someone you know is tired of being held back by the past and wants to move forward, we’re here to help. Find out more by clicking the button below.

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