We’re encouraged to be kind to ourselves, but self-kindness isn’t always easy. Especially, if it’s the polar opposite of how we usually think and act. When our self-worth is low, which is really common when we are unwell with depression, then it’s hard to feel worthy of kindness – from anyone.
The way we treat ourselves can often be poles apart from the way we interact with our loved ones. We would never dream of saying certain things to our friends, but say them to ourselves constantly. If our family members experienced certain things, we would wrap them in words of encouragement, comfort and reassurance, but when we experience them, we punish ourselves – sometimes without being conscious of the negative self-talk. And that’s the bit that’s hard to unpin.
When We Don’t Like Ourselves
We all have things about ourselves that we’re not-so keen on. Most people will have bits of themselves that they don’t like. Sometimes it goes deeper than that, though. Sometimes we really can’t stand ourselves – in fact we often find that we hate every single part of who we are.
It can be incredibly difficult to treat ourselves with kindness when we don’t like ourselves. We feel as though we don’t deserve it. We feel as though we’re not worth it.
Whether we like ourselves or not, we deserve kindness. We don’t deserve to be bullied by the things going on inside our heads.
We could try starting with super-small acts of kindness. This could include things like throwing away, and replacing, the holey slippers. Or giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt when things go awry. Hopefully, over time, we’ll get more comfortable with kindness and feel more able to be kind to ourselves on a more regular basis.
When We Have No Motivation
Depression is well-known for stealing what little motivation we have. We feel tired to our core, our get-up and go has got-up and gone. With such little motivation, where the most basic of life tasks feel Herculean, we feel as though we definitely don’t have the motivation to treat ourselves with much kindness.
We could try making a commitment to ourselves to do one act of self-kindness a day (and grow it from there). We could put reminders around our house, or on our phone, or in our diaries, to help us remain mindful.
We could also try roping in others. We could try buddying up with a friend, and both commit to do an act of kindness every day. Then, we could check in with one another to see if we are managing to do it. Sometimes it can help to have someone who we can be accountable to.
When We Have No Energy
We often find that we have less energy than we would like. When depression strikes, this can become so much worse. Not only do we have less energy to begin with, but every task we do takes even more energy than usual.
Self-kindness doesn’t need to require much energy. We don’t need to take ourselves on a long spa retreat, or cook ourselves an elaborate three course meal. It can include things like allowing ourselves to take breaks when we need to (something crucial when our energy is low!), reaching out for help, addressing some wonky boundaries.
When We’re Trapped In A Negative Cycle
It’s so easy to get trapped in a negative cycle. For example, we could feel like we can’t be kind to ourselves, so we hate ourselves, so we cope in a less-than-ideal way, so we feel like we can’t be kind to ourselves. The cycle continues.
The only way to get out of a cycle is to break it somewhere. We’re likely to struggle with completely changing our mindset and coping mechanisms overnight. But one thing we can do overnight, is to introduce a small act of self-kindness, whatever it may be. In time, introducing these little acts of kindness, might help us to begin to challenge some of our negative thoughts.
We all have imperfections. Every single one of us. We are all disappointed at times. We all feel as though we’ve failed sometimes. None of this means that we are any less deserving of a little kindness. Our value as a person is not altered by what we’ve achieved, no matter how many times we feel as though we’ve failed.