Does kindness to others require a kindness to self?

There is a popular narrative that says you need to look after yourself and fill your own cup before you can give to others. I don’t always agree. I think the combination of self-care and service to others goes hand in hand. But it is a delicate balance. 

I like to apply my four elements of kindness to help me find my own balance – self-awareness or consciousness; willingness to have a positive impact on self; kindness without judgement of self and, of course, doing or taking action. 

Self-Awareness 

For me, this looks like being fully engaged with your own body, mind and soul and listening to your internal voice and your internal narrative. Are you being too hard on yourself? Do you feel tired, empty, exhausted or sad? Or are you feeling happy, excited, light and fulfilled? Being in touch with who you are and having the emotional awareness to understand where you are at is important.  Realizing that you need to top up your own cup is the first step. 

Willingness 

The awareness of self may be there, but so often I see people continuing to push themselves, and share their energy, without ever stopping for the self-care moments. Willingness to implement what you inherently know is best for you is actually quite difficult. We need to get off the treadmill of life from time to time! 

Don’t judge yourself against others 

Be careful of falling into the trap of comparing yourself to others. This is a major challenge of mine and I guess for many others too. I remember as an athlete I would often fall into the comparison trap which always ended up in a focus on my shortfalls instead of my own strengths. Our own negative narratives about ourselves is the opposite of kindness and your body and mind will suffer as a result. 

The doing 

If you recognize some of these things in yourself, then it’s time to start taking steps towards more self-care and being kinder to yourself.  Here are some of my go-to’s when I need to put myself first. 

Nourish your body:  

This one is usually quite simple. Treat your body as your temple.   

·         As much as possible, replace “dead” food with “living” food.  

·         Choose anti-inflammatory, plant-based foods.  

·         Look after your gut! This will also help you mentally as the gut is intrinsically linked to the brain and 90% of serotonin is made by microbes in the gut. Happy gut, happy mood! 

·         Go for a walk! When you are on a work call why not walk and talk? 

·         Try a new smoothie or go to a new plant-based restaurant. 

·         Stretch for 5 minutes or lie on you back and just breathe. Be present in your body for this time. 

·         Eat slowly and consciously with no distractions.  

Nourish your mind: 

Nourishing your mind is about letting go of the stresses, tensions and hardships of the day and taking a minute or five to allow your mind to relax. Here are a few examples of things I like to do: 

·         Listen to a podcast 

·         Read a book  

·         Read for fun 

·         Call a friend for a chat 

·         Attend a workshop  

·         Learn a new skill 

·         Plan your next holiday 

·         Build a vision board 

Nourish your soul: 

I believe that a big part of nourishing your soul comes from practicing gratitude, service to others and working hard at knowing yourself. All those things help us realize that while we are just a little speck in this universe, we are infinitely connected to everything and everyone. Here are some tangible actions you can take: 

·         Meditate  

·         Play with your pet 

·         Write down five things you are grateful for today 

·         Perform a random act of kindness 

·         Donate to an animal sanctuary 

·         Help someone in need 

Those who fought in World War II are often called The Greatest Generation. They gave their hearts, their souls and often their lives fighting for a world they believed in. In the 80 years since we have encountered our fair share of global challenges but let’s be honest, the world we currently live in is unlike anything seen in those eight decades. 

When I see the fervent commitment to a better world, I am given hope. I see our love of the planet and its inhabitants. I see our dedication to finding solution. I see us stepping up and taking responsibility. What I see is the New Greatest Generation. 

Go forth in kindness and start with being kind to you. 

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