Kindness Consciousness—The Personal Side
While listening to a podcast recently, the narrator talked about “comfort words.” He started his talk listing comfort foods—foods we eat to make us feel better when we are down, stressed or even bored. He then moved on to “comfort words.” He described comfort words as phrases we tell ourselves that comfort us—some of which are helpful and some of which are not. Whether you want to label them as positive or negative, they are “comforting” because they are familiar. Familiarity and comfort go hand in hand.
As therapists, we can look at “comfort words” as self-talk—what Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) defines as what we tell ourselves. Some self-talk is obviously positive or negative. For example, “I can do this, I have done similar things before” is positive. While, “I have never been good at first impressions so this won’t go well” is intrinsically negative. However, some self-talk that feels comforting (and maybe even sounds so) may not be positive or help us better ourselves. And in my mind, working to better ourselves is the ultimate form of showing kindness towards ourselves because it demonstrates that we believe we are worth it, whatever “it” may be.
Here are some examples of comfort words and self-talk. Suppose I have a pattern of telling myself, “I am so stressed. I need a break.” These comfort words are not inherently bad; however, they might make me focus on my stress or feel sorry for myself because I feel like I never get a break. If I change my words to say, “It is important to practice self-care. What can I schedule in the next day, week or month that will help me with my stress” I may be more likely to focus on positive practical actions I can take to better myself.
For your own mental health, I propose that you take inventory of your most common “comfort words” or self-talk. Are your words kind? Do they propel you to make positive choices? If not, try to think of some better things to tell yourself that are kind, true and promote positive change.
We have talked about self, now let’s talk about others. Kindness towards others does not have to cost anything. Often it only “costs” time and awareness. For example, an extra 30 seconds to greet someone or hold a door. Or, the awareness that someone has dropped something so you pick it up. I would argue that kindness begets kindness. Once you begin showing kindness, you may notice others around you becoming more kind, or at least more aware. And, if you have children, they will definitely notice when you are kind to others. You are their kindness role-model. Try demonstrating acts of kindness with them and then talking to them about it afterwards so it sinks in.
If you are struggling to be kind to yourself or others, you are not alone. We can help you learn the skills to change your self-talk and promote self-care so that being kind to yourself and others becomes natural and rewarding in your daily life. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our mental health therapists.