Be Kind, but Be Kind to Yourself, Too

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So often we discuss the importance of kindness, particularly towards others. Whether we are close to one another or not doesn’t matter, for both those we hold dear  and those we do not are often going through personal battles we may not know about. I don’t always succeed in living this way, but I try to keep that in mind for there have been many times where I had hoped for more from others around me – when I was treated less than fairly, with cruelty, with negativity. However, there can also be a pattern of trying to do right by other people to the point of forgetting oneself. If your loved ones are truly your supporters, they will never make you choose between your own well-being and theirs. They will never demand that they should take precedence over your battles, your happiness. Be kind to yourself; we all need compassion in our lives – bestow yourself with some, for it is never selfish to ensure you are being taken care of, too.

Every day, we must choose where our focus will lie, and that is often divided up between friends, family, work, and/or school (and then hobbies, errands, chores, and other tasks). In this way, we often forget about taking care of our mental state of mind and thus become burned out and fatigued. I have learned over time that this is usually a warning sign for me personally, that I may end up entering another depressive state if I do not start pulling back and allowing room and time for rest, for recuperation. I have been trying to focus more on myself the past month or two because my anxiety has kept me from sleeping, and when I do sleep, I have nightmares. July was a particularly hard month as it is a month of reminders for me. Further, my chronic pain levels have been constantly high in a month-long flare, though they are finally coming back down this week. My mental well-being was suffering, and instead of being ashamed of that, I have been trying to remain open about where my mind is at. Let people in when you are hurting, for they may offer you words of comfort or a different perspective or the hope you seek. Your loved ones want to help, and very often, that support is what you need to keep moving, to keep hoping for a better tomorrow, to pull yourself back up from the unseen depths.

I am thankful for those in my life who understand if I’m being distant, it’s because I’m doing my share of battling; it is simply part of how I deal with my anxieties and depression. I can become a bit of a recluse, so they choose to join me while I binge on Netflix or read a book or write everything or do nothing at all until I feel better equipped to be sociable, to be more “me” again. Or, as is the case last Friday, they convince me to grab a delicious beverage and relax. Very often, they notice the subtle changes in my behavior and attitude before I even recognize it, and they offer to be there however I may need them. Surround your life with people who are uplifting and who, in return, you also uplift. I was discussing this with a friend of mine, and she wisely explained, “Friendship isn’t really about what one gains from the other person—it’s for the mutual happiness that comes from relating to a human being and sharing a bond over good and bad experiences. It’s a communal bond, not one person slaving away to make the other happy.”

There are many types of people in this world, and some of them are more in tune than others, but that does not mean their intentions are not good ones. I read once that “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior,” and I think that is true. We sit behind our minds and know all of our good thoughts and purposes, but how often do we actually project them into action? We are not proven decent human beings by the thoughts that go unheard, unpracticed. Live by those intentions, and turn them into something tangible.

It is sometimes easier to be benevolent to others when meanwhile, our minds are becoming trenches. Failure is taken harshly, mistakes are considered failures, and every conversation, action, thought, and intention are dissected into all the things we are doing wrong in our lives. This is particularly amplified when you are someone who suffers from depression and anxiety. I often have to stop and remind myself, “Your mind is being clouded with toxic thoughts.” Sometimes it is necessary to dedicate a moment to some self-love and care, whether that means exercising more or going to bed early or ordering that extra dessert or finding time to do something for no one else but me. It can be a lot harder to do so that it seems, and it is something I have seen many of my loved ones also struggle with.

We love the people in our lives and therefore want them to be happy, so we feel the need to take care of them as best we can. Just remember you are one of those people worthy of being taken care of, as well. Be sure to do so.