ME TIME Taking the time to be kind to yourself and attend to your own needs is not selfish, it’s necessary if you want to be truly and sustainably kind to others.
Christmas is nearly upon us and we’re busy getting ready. Presents are being bought, food is being prepared and the last of the decorations are being put up.
I was reflecting recently on how much kindness is shown at this time of year, and how wonderful it is to see. People put time into thinking about what a friend or loved one would like as a Christmas gift; they remember to pop into their neighbours for a visit; they donate money, food or time to charity.
This month, a kindness Advent calendar has been circulating on social media. It’s a nice tool to use to remind ourselves to do little acts of kindness for others every day in the lead up to Christmas. But what got me really thinking was not how we need to learn to be kinder to others; this already comes naturally to us. I’m wondering about what we can do to show more kindness to ourselves.
It’s easy to get caught up in other people and events, and trying to tick all the boxes. We have this idea that we should always be there for others. We can feel like we should have a continual well-spring of kindness and generosity. However, this often leads to that well becoming dried up and empty.
The Christmas period is a busy time and it can take its toll on us if we neglect our own needs. This Christmas, can you have the insight and courage to put yourself first when it comes to kindness?
Top up your own glass
Kindness always needs to start at home. You can only really be there for others if you have a strong foundation of self-love and self-kindness. If you can’t be kind to yourself then it’s difficult to be genuinely kind to others. It isn’t sustainable in the long term, and it only leads to feelings of hurt, resentment, anger and exhaustion.
Kindness towards yourself doesn’t mean you become selfish. Actually, being kind to yourself first allows you to be truly kind to others, and it ensures your that kindness is loving and genuine. It’s the same idea as continually filling your glass so you have some to give to others, or putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others to put on theirs.
So how does someone be kind to themselves? I think of it as cultivating the same attitude to yourself as you would towards someone you love. Think about a good friend or family member that you would easily show kindness towards. Now think about how you could do the same for yourself.
Being kind to yourself is also about being realistic about what your limits are and how much you can feasibly give to others. If you feel that you are always giving and giving and resentment is starting to build up, take this as a sign that you need to spend time being kind to yourself.
Allow yourself the gift of kindness this Christmas and you will be able to care for yourself and others in a much more sustainable way.
> Jannah Walshe is a counsellor and psychotherapist based in Castlebar and Westport. A fully accredited member of The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, she can be contacted via www.jannahwalshe.ie, or at firstname.lastname@example.org or 085 1372528.