Practicing kindness and self-compassion comes up every week on one of my leader training calls. This week, we were asked “what’s right about you?” The question immediately reminded me of my conversations on self-compassion with many of the moms I coach.
Every week, I ask them to name something they accomplished so that I could provide recognition. They’re often speechless or say they don’t need any acknowledgment for what they “should” be doing anyway. I remind them of their wins for the week and goal of having more self-compassion which nudges them a bit. One of my clients asked me to remove this practice from their sessions completely. Unusual? No, not really.
The Importance of Being Kind
Women often try to convince me that they don’t do anything extraordinary or worthy of praise. Yet most of those same women feel underappreciated, overlooked, disrespected and even forgotten. Isn’t that ironic? According to Psychology Today, many women do not feel worthy of kindness. As a coach, I invite my clients to see how their internal beliefs may be perpetuating their outer world. These “limiting beliefs,” can keep a person stuck and unwilling to practice kindness and self-compassion until they alter how they view themselves.
Practicing Kindness Can Feel Cruel at First
How often do you celebrate your progress? Your answer begins the process of claiming respect and appreciation for yourself and your unique circumstances. If you have difficulty, you’re not alone. Be forewarned that practicing kindness and self-compassion may trigger a blast of harsh accusations.
A few years ago, I launched a “Mirror Challenge” sparked by my years of study with self-love guru, Louise Hay. A seemingly simple practice of looking into your eyes and saying “I love you,” was one of the hardest tasks of the day for some of the participants. Some women reported hearing a nasty heckler from within shouting: “Liar!” “No one loves you!” “You’re too fat!” “You’re so old!” “You disgust me” “You’re a loser” and so many other self-loathing lies. I call this negative voice of shame “the inner bully.” She can also steal the joy from a big win by second guessing your performance. The inner bully lives within each of each us. Recognizing her as separate from your true identity is the first part of the work.
The Media Doesn’t Practice Kindness
Oddly, many women are unaware that their feelings of self-hate are quite common. The messages can stem from the poisonous media propaganda that say: there’s something wrong with us – mainly our bodies. Thanks to our advances in technology, the poison rests in our little hands as we constantly scroll through our cell phones. The sophisticated algorithms generate ads that stalk us after we Googled a topic. YouTube interrupts your program with answer for whatever ails you. Alexa is always listening and learning what to suggest in your Amazon cart. We absorb these damaging feeds daily and it feels “normal.”
For years, the patriarchal society has been dangling unattainable images for women to strive for. The vision of a youthful, tall, slender, straight-haired executive who “does it all with a smile” is displayed on every medium. That’s the overt brainwashing which keeps the economy going and the mental health industry expanding. It’s no wonder women avoid the mirror!
Practicing Kindness and Compassion with Self-Talk
According to, women’s health expert, Dr. Christine Northrup, thoughts are an important part of the body’s wisdom. Our toxic thoughts can impair the body’s ability to heal. However, increasing your positive self-talk is another mode of practicing of kindness and self-compassion which reduces stress and cortisol levels says Mayo Clinic in a recent study. The results of mindfulness in the workplace is well documented in shifting thoughts of overwhelm, loyalty and positive well-being.
Thankfully, bestselling author and research professor, Dr. Brené Brown, has created her legacy by helping women heal from the grips of shame. She says that “in a society that says ‘put yourself last’ self-love and self-acceptance are almost revolutionary.” In other words, the ability to love yourself now, appreciate where you’ve been and the daily strides you make to move forward, is a critical practice that deserves space in everyone’s life.
As we move cautiously through the stages of rebounding from Covid-19, weathering politics, and deciding how to support black lives to matter more, the world is being stretched out of its comfort zone. We owe it to ourselves to acknowledge the stress and flood ourselves with nurturing acts of kindness.
A Morning Ritual of Kindness
For me it starts with my morning. For years, I fought having a morning routine – it was too constricting and time consuming. Coach and best-selling author, Hal Elrod, created a system called Miracle Morning which consists of S.A.V.E.R.S. (S-Silence A-Affirmations V-Visualization E-Exercise R-Reading and S-Scribing) to kick off your day. As a mom of two teens and a business owner, I’m a convert! I’ve used variations of this practice to overcome the inner bully and overload for over 20 years!
How do you program yourself for success each day? Do you jump on the commode with your cell in hand, multitasking your way into the shower, out the door and into the wild world of uncertainty? I recently completed a free 20-day meditation and movement program on Zoom with moms to help them reclaim their mornings. The women reported that doing this practice daily almost guaranteed that they felt more centered, calm and in control of their day. They were also more productive and willing to praise themselves for their wins at the end of the day!
How will you acknowledge what’s right about you in spite of your programming? As moms, we know that our children are sponges. Although practicing kindness and self-compassion could seem like another item on the list, remember that the goal is to interrupt the cycle of self-loathing, guilt and constant comparing so they can look at themselves in the mirror with pride. For starters, why not stop the world before it starts each morning by declaring what’s right about you, your life, the world around you? Sounds simple? Try it for one day and let me know how being kind to yourself uplifts your day.