What does it mean to be kind to yourself?

Thoughts on self-worth, compassion and being kind to yourself first and foremost.

A friend posted this on Twitter first thing Tuesday morning:

Tweet by @angefitzpatrick: I'm carving out half an hour this morning to go for a walk in the snow. If I don't, I have to walk in the dark after everyone else is in bed. Be kind to yourself this week, even if it's just tiny things.

It put the question and title for today’s article in my head:

What does it mean to be kind to yourself?

Ange’s words are one among many things this week that have got me thinking about self-worth and compassion.

Firstly, I came across a note I’d made during my coach training that contained three sentences:

  • Human doings demonstrate their worth by showing how busy they are.
  • Human havings demonstrate their worth by what they possess.
  • Human beings are comfortable just as they are.

Then, I listened to a coaching podcast where John Perry, a tutor on that training programme, elaborated on this topic. He describes self-worth as an intrinsic quality, as unconditional self-acceptance and compassion for ourselves. This is in contrast to what he calls self-esteem which is something we earn; it is conditional on what we do or have and comes with the implication that we could be doing more/better/faster etc.

Finally, I started reading Pema Chödrön’s book start where you are: how to accept yourself and others. In the preface she identifies the recurring theme of the book and of her teaching:

it is unconditional compassion for ourselves that leads naturally to unconditional compassion for others

This all seems very relevant now, when the negative self-talk feels louder than ever. We’re under more pressure from external sources and that leads us to put more pressure on ourselves to do better. What if it’s time to give ourselves a break from that expectation. To be kind to ourselves and say this is where we are and that’s OK.

So with all this in mind, I’ll ask… what will you do to be kind to yourself this week?