*This post was written for and featured on the Kind Kindred series that Amanda hosts at Kind Over Matter. Each Monday, Amanda features a new guest-poster who has some great input on how be kind to yourself or others. Check out more of Amanda’s Kind Kindred Series here!
When I’m being kind to myself, I’m finding the balance between accepting what is present in my life AND respecting myself by using my talents and purpose at the highest level. My kindness is both a bear hug and a smack on the butt…
I’ve written about acceptance. I’ve spoken about fierce self-love. I’ve been working on letting go of my need to control everything. I practice self care like a spiritual gangster.
All of these are ways of the bear hug. It’s the warm embrace and unconditional love we associate with mothers, with the Dalai Lama, with the best teacher you had growing up. The bear hug is compassion for my mistakes, gentleness towards my struggles, and quiet pride when I’m doing good in the world.
It’s the part of me that can self soothe with a stroke on the arm and a whisper of, “Oh honey child, you are okay. You are safe. You are loved,” the secret words I chant to myself through my tears, when all feels lost and I am scared.
I’m not a fighter by any means.
I’m a lover. An emotional roller coaster. A free spirit.
Instead of trying to solidify, to prepare myself, to practice stoicism – I am kind to myself in the way of the bear hug.
Smack on the Butt.
Kindness to myself isn’t only about lavender bubble baths, positive affirmations, and genuine acceptance of my entire self. There is another, equal force of kindness I practice.
The way of the smack on the butt. Catchy, I know. It’s not a hard or cruel smack; it’s the football player “Let’s do this!” tap.
It’s pushing pash comfort and apathy and uncertainty. It’s challenging myself to create. To serve. To play a bigger game, even when I’m scared and stuck on the opinions of others.
This form of kindness is seeped in respect. Respect of myself and my gifts. I honor myself through the kindness of growth, of assuming I can do something I’ve never done before, of pushing past my own barriers.
This kindness doesn’t operate from a sense of lack.
It’s not based on the thought, “I’m not good enough unless I achieve XYZ.”
This kindness operates from a sense of love, of belief, of confidence. It calls me to become more myself, to empower those I feel drawn to serve, to put myself out there.
Not letting myself fall prey to fear, to a sense of meaninglessness, to throwing up my hands and saying, “This is too f*cking hard” is my personal practice of smack on the butt kindness. It’s obviously the badass part of my equation!
The challenge in my zen of kindness is finding the balance. When does bear hugging myself turn into unhealthy indulgence? When do I cross the line of smack in the butt kindness to nose to the grindstone addiction to work, unrealistic expectations, or losing the gentle connection to my intuition that says “Relax. It’s not time yet”.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to come up with a reasonable mind measure for this balance. Instead, I have a list of external cues that warn me when I’ve gone too far to one side of kindness or the other…
When Bear Hug Kindness Is Out of Whack.
- I start telling myself “I deserved” the extra indulgence (wine, french fries, shopping trips to target, ignoring my email) because everything else is hard right now.
- I don’t follow through on commitments I’ve made in good faith.
- I ignore dealing with hard situations because “they are what they are”.
When Smack on the Butt Kindness is Out of Whack.
- I lose a bit of compassion for others’ situations because I am so focused on my own forward movement.
- I find myself measuring my worth based on my productivity.
- I lose the ability to glean inspiration from others and jump to judgment and comparison instead.
- I feel disappointed in myself when something beyond my control goes wrong.
Signals I’m Striking a Kindness Balance.
- I’m taking care of my mental and physical health, which for me is walking in the mornings, reading books from the library, abstaining from most sugar, meditating, making time for friends, and going to yoga.
- I’m working on a creative project, whether it’s a new product for Stratejoy, remodeling our cabin, planning my wedding or performing in a burlesque show.
- I’m feeling a bit scared in the business world. This is a sign that I’m on my edge and pursuing new opportunities and applying new knowledge.
- I’m connected to my far-flung family.
- I’m playing on a regular basis by dancing, traveling, wearing costumes, pursuing new experiences, and laughing. Lots of laughing.
Kindness towards myself means unconditional love and challenge, compassion and dedication, acceptance and honoring.
How do *YOU* find balance in kindness? I’d love to hear your out of whack or on track signals! Making a specific list like this helps me stay in awareness, when life swings swiftly one way or the other. It’s comforting knowing I have tools to help me “rebalance” my kindness
Above all? I want to practice kindness towards myself, day in and day out. I want find my compassionate badass balance.
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