"Self compassion is too soft". "I'll lose all my motivation if i'm nice to myself".
"I wouldn't even know how to be kind to myself". "The only way I get things done is by being hard on myself".
These are common comments that come up during the groups I run for women on self compassion. They might sound familiar because they might be the same exact things running through your mind.
Let me back up a bit by describing what self compassion is
Self compassion has 3 main pillars to it:
Self Kindness > Self Judgment
Self compassion encourages to be understanding and kind to ourselves when we struggle, fail, or feel inadequate. Instead of criticizing and placing judgment on ourselves, self compassion allows us to be a bit more gentle with ourselves and realize, imperfection is a part of the human experience.
Common Humanity > Isolation
This pillar of self compassion reminds us that we are all human and we all have struggles. Instead of thinking "I am so stupid. I am the only one who does this/thinks this/ struggles with this". We remember that as humans we are imperfect. We all struggle. We all have our shortcomings. Being imperfect does not make us flawed, it makes us human.
The ability to be aware and acknowledge our thoughts and feelings [without judgment]. To become curious and aware without over identifying.
Most of us are pretty comfortable being critical of ourselves. It's typically easy and perceived normal in our culture to minimize our attributes and magnetize our struggles. We live in an inner world of dialogue in our minds and this dialogue shapes how we we perceive ourselves and our abilities.
I want you to pause and take a moment to journal or think about this question.
What is the purpose of my inner critic?
Now, you might be thinking there is zero purpose to it, but I would argue if there was no purpose, you wouldn't be doing it. It might not be serving you well, but it is serving you in some way.
As scary as putting your fighting gloves away can feel, i'm going to go out on a limb and say it's scarier to be your biggest critic for the rest of your life.
Self Compassion can be vulnerable and with that vulnerability comes a lot of really great [researched] benefits.
So, today i encourage you to ask yourself "what purpose does my inner critic have and is it bringing me closer to the life I want to live or is it bringing me further away?"
If this question feels confusing for you, I would take it a step further and explore "Would i want a loved one (child, spouse, friend) motivating themselves with criticism or motivating themselves with compassion?"
Ultimately, You deserve a life full of joy, meaning and yes...even kindness.
Hanna Kuyper is passionate about helping women heal their relationship with food, body and find joy in life. Hanna previously served as a Board Member of Body Revolution, a non profit dedicated to raising funds and advocating for those with eating disorders. In 2015, Hanna opened iamwell, a community dedicated to helping women create a healthy relationship with food and their bodies Additionally, she created and ran women's groups that focused on body image, self compassion and intuitive eating. Hanna has also worked in school programs mentoring adolescent girls and teaching them about positive body image. Hanna has a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in eating disorders and body image. Hanna writes for Thrive Global on healing your relationship with food, body and finding joy in life. Currently Hanna is working towards her license as a marriage and family therapist.
When we think of kindness we probably think about being nice to our friends, our family, the neighbors down the street, even the stranger at the grocery store. If someone were to ask you if you are a kind person, chances are you would say yes. In most settings, we were raised with the basic knowledge that we should be kind to others, you know the old saying "treat others how you want to be treated".
Now what if someone asked you if you were a kind person to yourself? Are you kind with the thoughts you think on a daily basis? Are you kind with the way you treat your body? Are you kind when it comes to the foods you eat and the products you use? Are you kind when it comes to allowing your body rest?
Likely that question brought up some emotions. Maybe shock. Sometimes guilt. Or maybe pride because you have worked really hard to become a kinder person to yourself. What I've noticed in my time working with women, being kind to others is second nature, being kind to ourselves, takes some work.
Today my goal is to explore with you what being kind to yourself looks and feels like, a simple step you can take today and some journal prompts to explore to help you choose kindness.
When I first started the process of choosing kindness for myself, I didn't know what that even looked like. Many of us have a background of constant diets, repetitive burnout, extremes and negative self talk. A big part of choosing kindness, is tapping into our selves and asking "what do I need in this moment?" This is going to look different on everyone and constantly be changing as you go throughout your day. Below you will find journal prompts to help you navigate what choosing kindness looks like for you personally but here are a few guidelines I believe can work for most.
Choosing kindness is:
The first step
The first step to choosing kindness is to simply begin. Instead of complicating things or waiting for the perfect moment to explore kindness, I encourage you to explore it now. If this is new for you, here is a quick exercise you can do to get present and tap into what your body needs. I use this with my therapy clients regularly.
Sitting in a comfortable position, take 3 long, deep breaths. Now, ask yourself
what are 5 things that you see, 4 things that you hear, 3 things that you can touch, 2 things that you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Take 3 more deep breaths and than ask yourself, what do I need in this moment? Honor what comes to you. Is it rest? Work? Nature?
When you have some time to get cozy, grab some tea or coffee and your favorite journal and explore some of these topics. This will help give you a better understanding of what you need more of on a regular basis.
What are things that you value most in your life?
What are some of your favorite ways to treat yourself?
What are your personal gifts you offer to the world?
What fills your heart up?
What would you do if you had more time in the day?
What brought you joy as a child?
What positive words describe yourself?
To me, choosing kindness means...
Write a love letter to yourself about all your accomplishments.
I hope some of these tips help you on your journey to choosing kindness. Be gentle with yourself, offer lots of grace and remember we're all in this together.
If you're looking to join a group of like minded women, join us in our private wellness group here.
Saying no can be hard. Like really hard. And how do we do it in a way that's kind without hurting feelings? Saying no can bring on feelings of anxiety and stress if it's not something that comes natural to us. As tough as it might be to get comfortable with saying no it is SO important for our well being. Think of all the things, as women especially, that we say yes to. Eventually, it adds up and starts taking away from things that are important to us. The more we say yes to the stuff that doesn't serve us, the more we say no to ourselves, our families and our overall wellness.
I've been there. A lot. I use to be the person that said yes to everything. Overwhelm and stress were a common part of my life. What truly made me shift my thinking was finding a big enough 'why'. I became a mama, and that changed everything. As difficult as it was, I knew I didn't (and my family didn't) deserve to live life burnt out and just getting by. You don't deserve that either.
Having the ability to say no is powerful. It allows you to set healthy boundaries and allows others the opportunity to do the same.
The truth of it is, time is something we wont ever get back. We can jam pack our days and our lives to the brim because we feel like we have to and that's the normal thing to do, but is that really living? I love the quote "Don't confuse a busy life for a full life". So. Much. Truth. When we continuously fill our life with saying yes to "stuff" we put off living in the moment, being present and living with intention.
If saying no is hard for you, don't worry, I've been there. Today i'm sharing with you things that I've personally done to make saying "no" a heck of a lot easier.
1. Understand your values. This is something that one day will be it's very own blog post because it's so powerful. When we get clear on what our values are and begin to make decisions aligned with them the rest falls into place. Choosing our priorities becomes a simple decision. Saying no becomes easier.
2. Give yourself some time. The most powerful realization I had was when I learned I had a choice and I didn't need to answer right away. If you're not sure or you need a second to think it through, let it be known. Repeat after me "let me think about it and i'll get back to you".
3. You don't need to explain yourself. Give yourself permission to say no without an explanation. Keep it simple.
4. Prioritize. Life is going to happen and it's up to us to make sure we are living it how we want to. When asked to commit to something new take a moment to check in and see if it's something that you want in your life. If no, practice #1, 2 and 3 :)
How are you when it comes to saying No?
Keep up the work friend,
Hanna Kuyper is a wife, a mom and a lover of all things outdoors. She has owned a women only wellness studio, sat on the board of a non profit dedicated to eating disorder and body image awareness and has volunteered as a mentor for girls in school. Hanna has a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in eating disorders and body image. She is a currently a virtual body image and recovery coach at The Eating Disorder Center.