Would you be kinder to yourself if you knew that every time you thought you weren't good enough or pretty enough or smart enough, you broke your heart just a little bit?
Have you ever thought of how unkind it is to say or do hurtful things to others? Have you thought about how it impacts you when you do it to yourself? When we are constantly reminded by the world that we don't measure up to a certain standard or that we haven't achieved what is expected of us, we can start to believe we deserve ridicule and scorn. That’s not true.
For a long time, I found it hard to compliment myself, give myself a break when I needed one or congratulate myself when I achieved something I had been working hard on. If I could do it, then surely anyone else could. It must not have been hard, right? I always thought everyone else was exceptional, while I was just exceptionally average. Other people must have it harder than me, therefore they deserve praise and rest when they get tired. I never stopped to think that maybe I deserved it too.
Why can't we love ourselves the way we love others? We find ourselves loving our friends and families easily because they bring us joy and comfort. They are a part of us and we care for them. Why don't we find the same joy and comfort in ourselves? Why do we feel that we are undeserving beings? We sometimes forget that where we are today might have been the place in which we wished to be two or five or even ten years ago. Our past or present mistakes and failures do not mean we are undeserving or that we have no value. Life is a journey that has many ups and downs, bumps and detours. We are bound to make the wrong choices sometimes but that doesn't take away our inherent value.
Something I've learnt along the journey of learning to love myself is that I should try to give the same love to myself as I give to others. At some point, I got tired of always being mean to myself. It only got me doubting myself and everyone who ever complimented me or enjoyed spending time with me. I always assumed that everyone was just being kind or polite when they say nice things about me. It never occurred to me that they meant it.
Sometimes the lifeline we need is ourselves. An act of kindness can be taking that trip you’ve wanted for a long time but didn't take because you felt it wasn't earned. Even patting yourself on the back for achieving the goal you worried yourself about for weeks or simply stopping everything and resting can be enough. We sometimes find ourselves accommodating others and making exceptions for them that we can't imagine making for ourselves. It's time to change that.
I've realised that it's not enough to give others the love I never received, I need to also give it to myself because some changes have to come from within. At some point, I have to look at myself and realise that only I can change my story, change the narrative that goes on in my mind. A friend recently told me that I am doing enough and that I am good at what I do. It was something so small, but it made my day in a way that I never thought it could. I actually took it to heart and believed it instead of arguing or finding ways to disprove it.
So you should be kinder to yourself, because you deserve it, and because why not? What harm could come from believing in yourself? What damage could be done if you stopped doubting yourself for a second? Would it be better to go through life not loving yourself or appreciating all the things you can do, not giving yourself grace and understanding?
I don't think so. So I ask: will you be kinder to yourself?
By Rumbidzai Mudzongo