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Kindness is central to health and happiness, and those practicing daily acts of kindness (DAKtivists) gain many benefits:
Self- or other criticism is the opposite of compassion and kindness, This occurs when we accidentally allow an inner critical voice relative freedom to judge, undermine, condemn or even sabotage our efforts and activities. When this happens, moods often drop, stress or anxiety increases, and a lot of energy gets wasted. Typically however, this happens because people simply had not realised the negative consequences, or that there are better and more effective ways to manage ongoing negative, angry, anxious or worrisome thoughts.
*A lot of acts can be carried out under the guise of compassion or kindness, but true compassion or kindness does NOT harm another.
Being kind to ourselves means taking time to treat ourselves with respect, compassion and care. Kindness and compassion means being sensitive to suffering of the self, and of others, and it includes a deep commitment to prevent/manage that suffering and nurture well-being (Gilbert, 2015).
As an example, if a colleague gets a promotion and you did not, it would be easy to self-criticise and tell yourself “you should have done better”, or “you messed that up”. By taking a self-compassionate and kinder stance however, you might say instead: “your time will come”, or “you are feeling annoyed / angry, and need to do some self-care (a kind and compassionate activity) to improve how you are feeling". Kindness and self-compassion, which includes self-care, are especially important at difficult times, but ideally, kindness and self-compassion also become a way of life. A daily way of life!
Steps towards kindness and self-care, and a new you, can include any of the following:
Self-care and kindness can also include accessing CBT support, or attending one of our informal community Stress Busters courses. Additionally, there is no assumption / need for anything to be "wrong" to access these supports. Instead, it is quite fine to attend these even for personal development, information and/or prevention.
Kindness and self-care can be a challenge for beginning practitioners incl those with busy lives. As noted by Richardson (2009) self-care takes patience, commitment and practice which includes sitting with uncomfortable feelings initially such as guilt or fear (for erroneously being judged negatively). However, you deserve kindness. Additionally, self-care and kindness are not selfish; by respecting and caring for ourselves, we are more able to respect and care for others. You may even be a role model for others towards similar changes.
Managing challenges however is absolutely worthwhile. A more kind and compassionate way of life will mean: