My friend, fellow author and speaker Denise Walker recently published her book “Perpetual Kindness – Creating a Global Movement Towards Love” which I highly recommend reading to remind ourselves of one of the simplest acts that can make such a big difference in another person’s life. Her book was inspired by several events in her life which includes: witnessing bullies at school to her own realization of unkindness towards another child at a young age, and perhaps the biggest impact to her was the tragic loss of Amanda Todd as a result of cruel and relentless cyber-bullying. Denise’s mantra is simple: the simple act of kindness has the potential to do wonders around us. It becomes contagious and with kindness, we become ambassadors to greater achievements.
Kindness begins with how we see ourselves. Much of this may depend on how we were treated as children. Unfortunately, childhood abuse survivors often grow up as adults who a have hard time seeing themselves with kindness. We don’t realize the subconscious voices telling us that we’re unlovable, we don’t deserve happiness, we’re ugly or we’re useless. When we repeatedly tell that to ourselves, we start to believe it and this can result in poor eating habits, broken sleep patterns, alcohol or substance use to numb the voices, anger management issues, depression and maybe even thoughts of suicide.
So kindness “at home” can be a difficult act since we have learned for years to believe that we don’t deserve to be kind to ourselves. It’s a tough uphill battle for many, yet cognitively we know we need to be kinder to ourselves if we’re ever to be truly happy.
How do we Achieve Self-Kindness?
Well, it doesn’t happen overnight and for trauma survivors, it can be an arduous journey, yet one worth pursuing because with self-kindness, comes self-love and happiness.
Start talking – Begin the dialogue with your trusted friends, family members or counselor about any of your early life struggles. This is perhaps the heaviest burden you’ve been carrying for decades and to release it would be one of the kindest things you can do for yourself.
Shift from being a victim to a survivor– When you’re able to accept what has happened in your life without painful feelings of resentment and anger, you can begin shifting your mindset into that of a survivor. A survivor strives for greater things in life and wants to learn more to enable changes. A survivor therefore becomes a student of life. A survivor no longer blames but instead acknowledges what happened was unfortunate and is at peace with it. A survivor learns healing tools, then practices and applies them daily. This in turn becomes an act of self-kindness.
Respect yourself – When boundaries are crossed, realize that you don’t have to accept other people’s unkindness towards you. By empowering yourself, you realize that you’d rather stand alone than to live amongst people who belittle or shame you.
The journey towards self-kindness can take years and maybe even a lifetime. Relapses can occur, but like anything worth doing, we simply just need to press the reset button and start over.
In this day and age with social media being such an influential part of how we feel about ourselves, it’s hard to see ourselves with kindness sometimes. We benchmark ourselves to peers and what society dictates: you need to be married by a certain age, you need to have a successful career and make your millions, buy a large home and fill it up with kids who will in turn become either athletes or scholars and show off your brand new boat and car for people to ogle over.
How about becoming much kinder to ourselves and achieve things that make you happy instead of what society wants? Some examples might be: getting out of bed and taking a shower, reading, going for walks, travelling, helping your kids learn about kindness, enjoying a cup of tea, watching a movie or making a tasty meal. These are a few simple acts of self-kindness that we’ve forgotten to appreciate.
Kindness begets kindness and when we learn to become kinder to ourselves, it inevitably stretches its arms to others. Perpetual Kindness is now available on Amazon.com
Happy weekend everyone!