On kindness

I was recently doing an exercise with a group and the question “if you could change one thing on the world what would it be” was asked to all the members.

My answer was the wish that we would all be a bit kinder.

When I thought about it some more I realised that while we can be very kind to others we are often very unkind to ourselves.

One of the common things I hear is about the critical inner voice so many of us has. This inner critic can have its uses as it helps us evaluation situations and motivates us, but it can also cause a lot of distress.

How often to you really listen to how this voice is speaking to you? What tone does it take? What sort of words does it use?

Most of all, how kind is it?

The reality is that a lot of the people I work with have a very unkind inner critic, it talks to them in the most horrible way.

We may consider ourselves really kind and caring people – to others. However, when it comes to ourselves it’s a different story. We in fact can be incredibly mean and spiteful, that inner critic can become a full blown bitch.

So what to do about it?

The first step is to notice it. When something becomes so habitual and ingrained, it’s an automatic respond that we don’t notice. Notice how often you are unkind to yourself. Become aware of what your negative inner voice is really saying.

The second step is harder. Start questioning the thought, below are some example.

  • Did I really deserve to call myself that name?
  • If I saw someone I loved being spoken to like that by a third person what would I do?
  • Would I speak to anyone else like this?

The third step is to challenge the thought. Depending on the situation and the thought it might be along these lines.

  • What I did wasn’t that bad, therefore I don’t think calling myself that name was justified.
  • Yes, I have put on some weight but I’m still a good person.
  • My future isn’t ruined because I didn’t get the job.
  • I’m not stupid, I have a good education.
  • I may be quiet but that doesn’t mean I’m boring.

This third step takes a lot of practice as the habits of unkindness need to be changed to ones of kindness to ourselves.

This takes time.

But it is worth the effort.

Give it a go and see.