I saw my best friend who I haven’t seen in ages last week. She had her second baby eight months ago so she’s been pretty busy adjusting to life as a family of four. As soon as I saw her I told her how awful she looked. Honestly, she looked so tired, with big dark bags under her eyes and dull grey skin. She didn’t have any makeup on at all and was wearing what I’m sure were maternity leggings and a baggy tee. I told her how awful it was that she’d let herself go like that, and asked why she hadn’t bothered to lose her baby weight (plus a bit more) yet. The baby was crying, clearly hungry, but she was flustered and flapping. I asked her if she actually knew what she was doing because it didn’t seem like it. I haven’t actually heard from her since then..
Horrible right? Why would I say any of that to my best friend, or in fact anyone at all? Well of course I didn’t, I’ve only ever spoken to one woman like that in my whole life… Myself.
Here’s an observation – isn’t it strange that we find it much easier to say “I’m a terrible mother” than we do to say “I’m doing a good job”? That saying “I love my curves” is much harder than saying “I need to lose 10lbs”? That accepting a compliment graciously comes less naturally to us than batting it off with an eye roll and a “yeah right!”? Why are we so quick to self depreciate, picking out all our own flaws and faults, and yet we struggle so hugely to celebrate our strengths and our triumphs, or to just be nice to ourselves? The fact is that if a friend spoke to us in the same way that little voice in our head does to us, they wouldn’t be a friend for much longer.
My friend is actually doing an amazing job. She is making life with two children look easy, she looks beautiful no matter what she is wearing because she’s so happy, and she’s always in good spirits regardless of how much sleep she has had the night before. I am actually pretty in awe of how well she has taken to life as mother of two, and I know that everyone around her thinks she’s incredible. But I can guarantee she doesn’t say any of that to herself when she looks in the mirror each morning.
I want to suggest something. I spend lots of time sharing ideas and promoting random acts of kindness. Being kind, encouraging others to be kind, and teaching the next generation to do the same is a real priority for me. Kindness makes the world a better, happier and brighter place and even the smallest of acts can have a big impact. But there’s one act of kindness that seems to be harder than all of the others, and that’s being kind to yourself. For some reason this type of kindness is a little taboo – it feels self indulgent and a little big headed to spend any time focussing on our positive attributes. Maybe though, if we spent a little less time analysing our darkest flaws and a little more time reminding ourselves of all the things we love about being us – we’d be in a much happier place. Maybe that’s the difference between self loathe and self love. Maybe that’s how we find ourselves again.
So here’s a challenge for you.. Every morning when you look in the mirror and start to think something negative, stop. Remember this – if you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself. Take a minute right now to think of a list of things you love about yourself, and have it ready in your mind to replace those negative thoughts straight away. Being kind to yourself is guaranteed to make you feel happier and more confident, plus it’s a positive healthy attitude to be modelling for our young children, so why isn’t it something we are all doing?
You’re beautiful, you’re strong, you’re intelligent. You’re kind, funny and brave. You love your children better than anyone else ever could and you are doing your best, every single day. That deserves some recognition, from yourself. And more than that, those children need to see you recognise that rather than criticise it, because in their eyes you are completely perfect.
I will be celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Week February 12-18th 2017 with a week of kindness and (lots of giveaways!) so make sure you’re on my mailing list and you’ll be the first to hear all about it!