We all deserve kindness – it’s core to our nature as human beings. Signs of it sprout up in the most beautiful stories that touch our hearts – happening in simple ways around the world each day. Whether it’s the lady who pays for the rest of the lines’ coffee orders, the man who let’s the Mom and baby with only a carton of milk ahead of him to pay at the grocery story, the child who shares her lunch with a friend who forgot his lunch at home, the bus driver who waits for the student running to catch the bus, or the neighbour who shovels an elderly neighbour’s driveway after a heavy snowfall. We excel at demonstrating it to others – making us feel good and staying connected to each other.
And when someone is suffering, most of us offer what we can to help them out of love, out of empathy, out of compassion. Our thoughts, our prayers, our words, our actions pour deeply from our souls – our effort, no matter how big or how small, resonates vibrantly with warm soothing energy lifting others up from the direst of circumstances. This reverence is a natural human balance to restore order when chaos ensues disrupting daily routines and livelihoods, most often without warning. And we triumph time and again – we build resilience, we cultivate goodwill, we restore well-being. Whenever, however and wherever shit happens, we as human beings come together to support each other to overcome and move forward. It is the way of our existence on this magnificent planet – and has been for thousands of years.
What could possibly make our lives even better? Are we as kind to ourselves as we are to others during times of difficulty? Maybe that’s it.
I listened to an inspiring podcast recently about being more kind to ourselves. Roisin Ingle from the Irish Times interviewed Padraig O’Morain, a mindfulness author and psychotherapist whose new book, Kindfulness, is coming out in June. He spoke about the importance of being kind with yourself as you are now and cultivating self-compassion, especially when things in your life go awry. During those times, he recommends listening to how you speak to yourself – if harshly, notice this, interrupt and stop what you are saying, and replace your words with something more understanding. Wise advice – easy to say, harder to do.
The inner critic always comes out – it’s part of who we all are as human beings and will always be there as a survival mechanism, and is, what I like to call, our growth compass. Regardless of the destination we’ve set out for ourselves in life, difficult times are part of the territory as are our imperfections. Practicing self-compassion is about allowing yourself to feel shitty, acknowledging and respecting your flaws and limitations – giving yourself a break, showing yourself kindness, and, most importantly, moving on, growing in the process. Whether it’s looking at yourself in the mirror for a long time with soft eyes without judgment, or saying that word or that phrase or that quote or other affirmation out loud, or listening to or receiving difficult feedback that makes us uncomfortable – treating yourself with kindness, finding out what works for you, and using your inner critic as a growth compass are all acts of being self-compassionate.
Are you using your growth compass to move closer to your desired destination or is it holding you still?