What does it mean to be kind?
It’s a serious question. We are encouraged, daily, to be kind with ourselves but what does that mean.
Kind. Has many definitions. To summarise them all into one, kind would be defined as being of a good or well mannered nature. With the ability to demonstrate this with words and/or considered, helpful actions.
For example, you witness your friend or relative spill milk all over the kitchen counter. They immediately reprimand themselves, strongly. What do you do? Well for one thing you won’t say “yeah that’s right, how could you do such a silly thing”. You’d more than likely help clean up the mess (action), tell them it’s okay, not to worry about it (words) and tell an anecdotal story about one time when you did something equally as silly but slightly more dramatic (considered words).
So why do we find it so hard to be kind to ourselves?
Now this is solely my opinion. But I think we find it hard to be kind to ourselves because we have an expectation of what we should be doing or be able to do.
Taking the spilt milk example. Put yourself in the position of being the spiller, how do you feel post-spill? A little silly right. You really should have been paying more attention. Seriously, how could you of done that. You should have put the lid on the milk and put it away like you normally do.
The thread that holds those thoughts together is lack of focus. You make tea everyday, or maybe you’re more of a coffee person. Either way, you should be able to do it with your eyes closed right? But for whatever reason, something took your attention away from what you were doing, you stopped being present and in the moment. And the milk spilt. It happens, it’s no big deal, but we expect more from ourselves.
These high expectations can lead to undue pressure and stress when we do not meet them.
Practicing mindfulness can help to reduce stress and encourage you to be more present
When I first started learning about mindfulness it was all meditation focused and I can not keep my mind quiet for love nor money. They say it comes with practice, but I say not everything is for everybody.
And because meditation and mindfulness are typically said in the same breath. It is easy to assume one can not exist without the other, but that is not true.
Mindfulness helps you to focus on noticing what is around you. It helps you to focus your mind on the task at hand, so that it can be completed as expected and not rushed. Reducing the possibility of silly accidents.
But how is that showing kindness to yourself
Being present means your will make more considered thoughts and actions. Instead of rushing to make your cup of tea, or coffee – spilt milk example. You have a greater awareness of every step of the process. Waiting to hear the kettle boil, taking the cup from the cupboard, placing it down on the counter. Hearing the sound of the cup connecting with the counter before opening the other cupboard to get the tea bag, etc.
Which means you are less likely to have an accident. And will possibly, again my opinion, check in with yourself while making the tea. Asking yourself questions to check you have done all the things you need to before moving onto the next step – considered and helpful thoughts.
Additionally, by slowing down you are giving yourself time and space to focus on one thing. And that my friend is kind. As it gives you a break from all of your racing thoughts and feelings of moving at a hundred miles a minute.
There is a greater benefit to kindness
If you are looking for more of the science behind kindness. I would recommend checking out the Random Acts of Kindness website. They have an article that dives deeper into the science of kindness.
And if you are feeling a little like you want to try an activity to help you feel more present. Go for a mindful walk.
I am a stan for The Science of Happiness Podcast and they have a great how to, to introduce you to mindful walking. As with most things this will need to be practiced. Daily. So give it a go and show yourself a little kindness.
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