Be Kind to Yourself


We learn from a very young age that showing kindness to others is good, admirable, wise. We are taught to forgive our peers their trespasses, be patient with friends and family, offer support and love and understanding to all who seek it.

And we learn from a very young age that showing kindness to ourselves is a sign of weakness. Delicious foods are reserved for special occasions, and constitute “indulgence.” Massages, long naps, yoga, facials, and other practices that restore and refresh our bodies fall under “pampering.” Celebrating our bodies through stylish clothing and expressive makeup is chalked up to “vanity.” And, above all, we are taught that the natural forms our genes have sculpted from our precious human cells merit nothing but dissatisfaction and disappointment. Just as we are driven to be competitive and successful in our achievements, we are driven to be self-critical and unkind about our appearances. Somehow, somewhere, someone decided that kindness is something that can only be bestowed on others.

But I’m here to tell you that being kind to yourself is vital. It is vital in the original meaning of the word: It is necessary for the maintenance of life. Being constantly unkind to yourself erodes your confidence, diminishes your self-worth, and extinguishes your individuality. Giving all your kindness away and reserving none for your own body, mind, and soul leaves you dry and empty. Eventually, you’ll have nothing left to give.

And no matter what you’ve been led to believe, you deserve kindness. From others and, most especially, from yourself. For starters, you deserve delicious food and naps and gorgeous shoes. But more than those easy-access kindnesses, you deserve the same forgiveness and patience and understanding that you offer to others. You deserve to see your body, not as a collection of mistakes or flaws or challenges, but as a unique, organic, amazing form to be revered and adored. You deserve to look in the mirror and see a woman radiant with potential, brimming with beauty, and worthy, worthy, worthy.

Be gentle and accepting with yourself and self-love will find you.

Forgive yourself.
Accept yourself.
Celebrate yourself.
Love yourself.
And, above all, be kind to yourself.

Image source

Originally posted 2011-02-02 06:01:35.

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44 Responses to “Be Kind to Yourself”

  1. Pippa

    Have just recently discovered your blog. I think this post is just what I needed today. Sometimes being a wife and mum of two toddlers takes over my life and I forget all about me. You have reminded me I deserve treats, and so tonight I wil treat myself. Not sure how, but will enjoy the rest of the day planning it. Thank you so much.

    ps you have some really great outfits!! Very envious!!!

  2. poet

    This is so true! I was aware of that double standard for a long time but it took me a while to overcome it – I managed only when I realized it was much harder for me to be kind to others when I was being strict to myself!

    Thanks for another great post!

  3. Sydney

    I love this post! Thank you for sharing. Being kind to myself is something that I have been constantly striving to achieve/attain. You write beautifully :).

    Recently I wrote a post on Self-Compassion. For readers who are interested, please visit Petite Gorgeous.

  4. Sandy

    This is beautifully written and just what I needed to hear today. Thank you.

  5. futurelint

    Such a good message – I’m really hard on myself and forget that everyone has bad days, and flaws, and gets embarrassed. Sometimes knowing yourself so well and being in your own head is overwhelming! Sundays are usually my kind of pamper and recharge days. I’m allowed to eat unhealthy, and watch bad tv, and put off the to-do list for the week!

  6. QuiteLight

    Thank you so much for this reminder, Sally. I was really struggling last night because we were choosing not to let an unreliable, suddenly homeless, substance-abusing friend (whom we still love) move in with my husband & I. We are taking care of ourselves by setting this boundary, since it can only end badly. We’ve put a lot of time & effort into being happy, healthy & drama-free, and to let this person get any closer would be to dynamite all of that. But even though I KNOW it is the right thing to do, that mental voice that insists kindness is only for others (brilliantly put!) kept berating & whining at me.

    Today I am going to eat delicious healthy food, drink hot tea, & be gentle to myself & my hubby, who is hurting over this too. Thanks for the timely reminder that it is Good to care for ourselves.

  7. Jen

    I love this so much.

    Reminds me of something my mom tells me often: You cannot draw water from an empty well. She usually says it in reference to being well-rested and healthy (physically and otherwise) but I think it’s applicable here too.

  8. joelle van dyne

    ahh thank you so much for this post today! i feel like i need to print out the last few lines and tape them all over my apartment and office, in places where i’ll constantly be reminded. forgiving/accepting/celebrating yourself is such important advice, especially when we’re so conditioned to do otherwise, in favor of deflecting compliments and being self-deprecating. even when that stuff starts out with just trying to be polite, i think it really becomes ingrained, and makes it hard to see the good in ourselves.

  9. Bubu

    Perfect post on a day with yet another foot of snow and everyone cooped up inside, quietly despairing, again. It inspired me to prevail upon my family and find the time and quiet to do an hour of yoga, which has made this day and blizzard far more bearable. thank you!

  10. June

    Can’t we blame much of our (American) cultural self-loathing on our Puritanical roots?

    I pursue what makes me happy, provided it doesn’t generally bring harm to someone else in the process. It suits me.

    Coincidentally, after a mucho-stressful day yesterday, I resolved last night to be better to myself today. I got 6 hours of contiguous sleep for the first time in months (not an easy task with 7-mo-old twins) and spent a whole 30 min on activities that benefited me exclusively. And I’m feeling so much better today!

  11. Elise

    Wow thank you. Someone I was with the other night was just talking about this and she said how many times we talk to ourselves in ways that we would not put up with from others. I know I am guilty of that, so I am going to try to not be angry at myself for not working a million hours a day and looking like a supermodel and give myself some space to breathe. I’m going to try to appreciate who I am and what I can do.

  12. Sarah

    Yes and yes and yes. I am going to print this out and put it on my bathroom mirror. It is NOT pampering – it is what I deserve! Rhank you Sal.

    Sarah xxx

  13. Gina

    Quite possibly the most inspiring message I have read on your blog and THAT is saying something!

    Thank you for writing that.

  14. Danielle

    Brilliant! I’m forwarding this on to my family and friends, the people who made need this today! Thank you!

  15. JG

    Ah, I just blogged something along these lines yesterday! I couldn’t agree with you more; we should not treat ourselves with any less care, kindness, and sympathy than we would treat our best friend in the world.

  16. Rhiannon

    Hi Sal,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now, and I am so glad that I do. Today, I had an experience that really goes along with the message of this post:

    5 months ago, I broke my foot, and 2 months before that I had surgery on a torn meniscus. This week I went running for the first time since and, as a collegiate athlete, I was so disappointed and depressed at just how infit and out of shape my body is. I was speaking to a girl in one of my classes and mentioned this, and she said to me, “yeah right! Look at you miss athlete, even if that happened you’re still athletic, you’re still strong.” She made me think of all the good things that my body can do: I can walk, almost run, strength train, hike, shoot hoops… so much! She made me realize how much nicer I need to be to me!!

    – Rhi

    • Rachel W.

      Oh my. I came across your comment moments after I was being frustrated with myself for not being able to crank out as many push-ups as I could last year. Sal’s post, coupled with your experience, helped remind me to be nicer to myself.

      I hope your recovery continues well!

  17. Erin

    You preach the truth. What wonderful words of wisdom & inspiration. All women should read this. I am saving this page for when I need it the most πŸ™‚ Thank you.

  18. Karen

    This was exactly what I needed today, how did you know? πŸ™‚ And the image you chose looks almost exactly like an old co-worker of mine. Stunningly beautiful but not always on top of the world – I am going to share this with her. Thanks always.

  19. Audi

    So true, Sal. We need kindness every day, and if we don’t give it to ourselves, how can we count on getting as much as we need?

  20. Bella Q

    Wonderful, wonderful post!
    SUCH TRUTH, and yet I forget it so often. Thanks so much for the reminder.

  21. Mon

    Great site loved what was written being kind to yourself is important I keep getting told that.Thanks again.

  22. Trish

    Like others here, I too have been thinking about this during this week. I’ve been struggling with thinking that I too am worth the kindness, love and blessings that I see others around me receiving.
    Another great post, Sal. This is why I come here everyday. Thank you.

  23. SER

    I think we say all those words
    when we haven’t wealth enough
    when we aren’t beauty
    when we haven’t lovely and admirable relationships

    we say that we should be kind with ourselves
    although, we aren’t beauty
    we aren’t wealthy
    we aren’t healthy
    we have nobody to love him or her and visa versa

    we know in deep of our soul that we want all of them
    but we haven’t
    so how we could lie to ourselves
    we want and desire things that we haven’t
    if they aren’t good
    so why they are in the world

    sorry, I’m tired of being kind
    I’m tired of loneliness
    I’m tired of not having many things
    and I can’t deceive myself with all words that you wrote above….