When I got married, my mum gave me a card with some advice to me as a newly wed.
She said the most important thing in a successful marriage is kindness. I couldn’t agree more with her – it’s been one of the most vital things for my relationship to stand the test of time – we’ve been together for close to ten years now!
And as I spent a day off work last week, completely exhausted from the ups and downs of covid life and lack of sleep (thanks for the 5am wake ups, Jenson!), I was reminded of the importance of kindness not just towards my husband but towards myself.
I spent the morning having a wonderful run to the seaside and into some countryside – time in blue and green space was just what the doctor ordered, but after that, I started to feel really antsy and uncomfortable. The day that had started so well was no longer going so well – I was doubting myself and feeling like the day was going to be one big disaster.
And then I remembered that what I really needed was a huge dollop of kindness.
I started to ask myself ‘what would be the kindest thing to do for myself?’.
And here’s what I was guided to:
- Get back into your PJ bottoms to stay cosy
- Listen to the sound of rain on an app you’ve got as you spend a bit of time just chilling
- Have lunch in bed, watching a feel good film
- Enjoy the nice full feeling you’ve got from having eaten slightly too much chocolate
- Have a nap
- Take it slow
It’s such a different approach to a child-free and work-free day of the past where I’d try to cram in so much – needing to feel like I’d achieved something from the day instead of asking what I needed from the day itself (rest, fun, reflection…).
Instead of telling myself that I need to be productive or do something with my time, it was such a relief to just be.
To allow myself to unwind from the pace of life for a moment. To sink even deeper – if that’s possible – into the potential of a life designed around taking care of myself with loving kindness.
And I’ve really appreciated a tip I took from a resilience webinar I attended on Wednesday (shown in the photo below) – in every choice we make throughout a day, we have a range of options – from something that’s the best possibility, to the worst possibility.
Our days are made up of these possibilities, stacked one after another in each decision we make. They can make us ascend or descend – the image shows how you can make the least kind decision but then bound up and ‘recover ground’ by making the most kind decision next.
Yet I rarely lived like this before. In the past, if I made one unkind choice towards myself (usually around eating my feelings away instead of acknowledging what I was feeling) I’d immediately discount the day and would spiral into some form of hell – beating myself up, eating even more, feeling crap about myself…it’d usually continue in that way for some days after until I managed to jolt myself out of the cycle.
But what I see now, what the model shared in the webinar showed, is that after that initial ‘worst’ choice, there is always another opportunity, another decision, another path to take which can lift us up – whether that’s the choice to:
- stop eating and acknowledge what is going on to us instead
- take a step back and assess our options
- start speaking to ourselves with kindness
- take the higher ground
It can turn around a day that has started to spiral
It’ reminded me that it’s never too late for kindness.
So what are you going to do with your day? How are you going to show yourself kindness today, friend?