Be Kind to Yourself

We often look externally for evidence that we’re lovable, okay, and worthy; that we belong. Another path is to look inward. Instead of distracting, busying, or analyzing, we sit down with ourselves and practice kindness.

Sometimes we take quite a journey—physically or mentally or emotionally—when the very love and happiness we want so much can be found by just sitting down. We spend our lives searching for something we think we don’t have, something that will make us happy. But the key to our deepest happiness lies in changing our vision of where to seek it.
— Sharon Salzberg

Life is an honest yet gentle practice. Without honesty, we’re not fully awake. It’s important to find our blind spots and shine light on the dark places. But without gentleness, we get caught in cycles of judgment and self-improvement, and we’re stuck. A middle path is this: accept ourselves just as we are, but notice where we can grow. Meditation provides ease in the long term, but it’s not just a relaxation method. It’s a way to look inward, with both integrity and kindness. It’s a way to stay with whatever arises—pleasant or unpleasant. Instead of feeling bombarded by life, mindfulness allows us to be open and curious. It’s a more skillful way to flow with uncertain circumstances.

Being kind to ourselves doesn’t mean buying new clothes, splurging on dessert, or ignoring painful feelings. It means taking a break—removing distractions, releasing the “doing”—and sitting still with ourselves. Pausing to notice our inner-experience. Discerning—with honesty and gentleness—what we most need in this moment: How can we move forward with intention and love? We can fill ourselves from the inside out. And we can practice this in small, doable ways: