THE POWER OF KINDNESS
You have an internal voice that guides you throughout your day. It tells you what to do, how to feel, and what thoughts to think. For most people, this internal voice is anything but friendly - and may actually resemble an army drill sergeant. Let’s take a quick example.
Imagine that you’re having a great day, everything is going well. And then you make a little mistake (like forgetting your coffee cup at home), and all hell breaks loose.
On the outside, everything looks fine. Nothing is broken, and you are able to maintain your composure, but your internal voice takes that one small slip, that single mistake, and punishes you severely for it. To some, it may not have even been a mistake, but to your internal “self-critic,” it may have been a life and death incident.
The Horror of the Internal Voice
The horror of the internal voice is two fold. One, for many people, it’s nearly completely negative, it’s almost silent when things are going well. And two, it’s almost never silent.
It wakes us up with thoughts of “you had better get up, or else,” and persistently nags us throughout the day with reminders of how our life is not perfect, how other people are better than us, how we’ll never have the success we deserve, and how incapable we are at even the most simple tasks in our life.
Essentially what this internal dialogue ensures is that things are never “going well.” There’s always a catastrophe waiting to happen, and we’re always anxious that we’re not capable of handling it.
In areas of life, such as our health, this voice constantly compares us to supermodels, and TV personalities, nags us about our weight, our muscles, our diet, our hair, our skin, and our ability to adhere to diets, exercise programs, and other self-improvement strategies.
This “negative Nancy,” often creates an identity of failure before we’ve even tried. It tells us, “you’ve never been able to stick to a diet before. Why try now.” or perhaps, “You have no will power and no discipline, you’re just a fat slob, why do you even try.”
These insults, because they are coming from inside ourselves, become elements that we identify with. And they turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby we create the failures we are anticipating, and when we fail, we can then say, “I told you so,” to ourselves.
No wonder why we have such a hard time making positive changes in our lives!
A Second Voice
But there’s another voice inside of us.
It’s a quieter voice, and for some may seem non-existent. But she’s there. She’s the voice that wants what’s truly best for you. He’s the voice that wants you to achieve all that you desire in life. She’s the voice that feels the pain of your negativity, of your shame. He’s the voice that truly wants a better life for you.
This is the voice of kindness. It’s also the voice of your True Self, Higher Self, God within you, Christ within you, or however you want to conceptualize it. But one thing’s for sure. IT IS THERE, AND IT IS KIND.
This is the voice of the perfect parent, inside of you. The mother or father who wants nothing for you but love, joy and peace. This is the voice that tells you that it’s all going to be okay, and that even though today you failed, tomorrow is another day, and you can try again. This is the voice who’s interested in you learning, so you can succeed, and looks at each failure as simply a learning opportunity.
It’s very interesting, because this voice is also the source of all the great advice that we give other people - our friends and family. This is where all of our understanding, compassion, and kindness for other people come from.
But for most of us, it’s next to impossible to hear it speaking to us.
The Power of Kindness
It’s in this voice, that our ability to transform everything about our lives exists.
Because it’s within this voice that gives us permission to change.
Our voice of kindness is the voice that guides us into ourselves, that we may learn what we need to learn in order to become whole. It’s also the voice that allows us to make mistakes and move on, and not identify with them.
When we learn to speak kindly to ourselves, we open ourselves to basic fundamental questions such as: “What do I want?” and “What is my purpose?”
These questions help us answer more superficial questions of “why am I trying to lose weight?” or “why am I trying to go to the gym?”
Because the answer to those questions can be very different from the perspectives of these two different voices.
On one hand, we hear “you need to lose weight because you’re an unhealthy, fat slob.”
And on the other hand, we may hear “I want to feel better in my body, I want to be able to move around with more grace, and I’d really like to enjoy myself more when I do physical things with my friends.” or even more simply - “I want to feel happy and alive in my body.”
These are two entirely different foundations upon which you might go to the gym or try to lose weight. And they will have entirely different results.
When you connect to the goodness you want for yourself, it will always be easier, and more sustainable to make the types of changes you need to make in order to reach your goals. Because they are goals you truly want - you’re not trying to run from something or be someone you’re not.
One Amazing Exercise
There is one exercise I prescribe to nearly all of my clients, to help them practice being kind to themselves, and finding this voice.
Stand in front of the mirror for 2 minutes and speak loving and kind things to yourself. Tell yourself, no matter what you do, no matter what happens today that you will still love you, and that there is nothing that you can do that will change the love that you have for yourself. Tell yourself that you want what’s truly best for you, and you will support yourself no matter what. Speak to yourself for these 2 minutes as you would a small child who is struggling with something.