A meditation on embracing self-kindness
Being a kind person is essential to living. It is essential to having any type of relationship: a relationship with oneself, another person, cat, dog, cockatoo or alien. Superficially, this is obvious. Kindness is something that every child is taught to embody from the earliest days of their lives. But over time, kindness has become less emphasized, less remembered and less considered when making everyday choices. In fact, in many professional and competitive occupations and scenarios, kindness is often disregarded and seen as a hindrance, as it is understood that, well, nice guys finish last, and if you want to "get ahead" in life, niceness simply must take a back seat.
But when you put niceness in the back seat, soon enough it is completely out of your focus, out of your rear view mirror, and you begin to forget about it altogether –– you begin to forget its simple and preeminent power. And as the kindness fades, subsequently so does happiness, and it is too often that this correlation is overlooked.
It is imperative to remember kindness. Kindness toward yourself, to your family, to your best friend, to your arch nemesis, to someone you truly (and maybe rightfully) dislike, to the animals on the street, to those in pain, to those who could use compassion and to those who act as if they don't need anything at all. Kindness and compassion are key to having a positive outlook on life, and as cliché as it may seem, it starts with being kind to the one person whom you may somehow forget about: yourself.
If you were compassionate to yourself about the many mistakes you have made and will make, if you were kind to yourself about feeling judgements or attractions toward others, if you are kind to yourself about the pain you are feeling (Feel it! It’s okay! It’s actually great to feel pain, and that is something people are not taught, and do not realize enough), or the happiness or proudness or depression or anxiety you are feeling, there is no doubt that you will be more compassionate and understanding of those around you. But, yes, it's fucking hard. That's no secret.
It starts with mindfulness. It starts with taking a mere few seconds out of your day to feel yourself breathe. Concentrating on all you are feeling, from the roots of your soles to the top of your crown, concentrating on everything you are thinking, and then dissolving those thoughts into nothing. Think back to the last time you just were simply “being.” When was the last time you allowed yourself to completely detach from the thoughts and emotions that consume your life, your being, your conscious? We can never expect to truly feel compassion for others, let alone ourselves, when we haven't taken the time to even try to understand what's really going on underneath the bullshit pressures and stresses of everyday.
Allow just a few seconds, a few minutes, a few hours (hey, knock yourself out) or whatever you've got the strength and time for, to just let yourself feel all the feelings. Let yourself know that it's okay to feel them, and breathe through it. It may end up being much easier or harder than you thought it would be; it may not seem like it is doing anything at all. But it is important to go there, or at least to try. Be with yourself. Be with your thoughts and your emotions. Feel them — really feel them.
Out of strong feelings of love and pain comes strength, art, maturity and wisdom. It helps you become a little less afraid of yourself, which can lead to successes in your personal life, in school, in relationships and in competitive settings. And when you’ve faced these daunting feelings, and confronted your own demons, you begin to understand why you feel the way you do, which leads to self sympathy. All too often, we do not consider being sympathetic to ourselves, but we deserve it. We really do. If everyone showed a little kindness, the world would be a better place for it.