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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Palmer

Kindness to Ourselves

Updated: Jan 24

Kindness to Ourselves. What would you say to a colleague if they were struggling, had a conflict or needed to shift priorities? Probably something along the lines of “take care of yourself, let me help”.

  • Their child is sick: be with them, that is your priority.

  • They are feeling overwhelmed: how can I help?

  • Have a conflict: we can reschedule.

And yet, when you need the same accommodation or understanding, are you as kind to yourself? I would guess not.

We are very hard on ourselves; much harder than we would be to others. We often hold ourselves to herculean standards, say yes to please others (to the detriment of ourselves), and are self-critical. A clear example is with sick days. We always encourage friends and colleagues to take time to heal and yet if you do so yourself, did you have to convince yourself to rest or require yourself to have extensive symptoms? Did you still try to work throughout the day to prove your commitment and dedication?

In coaching new parents back to work after parental leave, one of the key pieces of guidance is to treat day one as day one on a brand-new job. They have not been a working parent before, so they are new hires. The department, client needs, company has evolved during their absence so there is learning to be done to transition back. And like a new hire, you would not expect them to hit the ground running on day one. You would allow for ramp up and onboarding. You would be kind; be equally kind and forgiving to yourself.

A former client reached out this week as he navigates a new opportunity. He had a really great approach to make sure he evaluated and asked all the right questions. First, he wrote a letter to himself, asking for advice. He wrote out all of his questions about the role and what he was struggling with, as if he were asking a friend or mentor. And then he responded to the letter as if it were for someone else. What advice would he give a friend? What perspective could he add when he was doing so as a kind and neutral third party.

Eliminating the emotion, removing the judgement, he found clarity the way we do when we coach others. This approach gave him the objective answers required to make his decision.

When we put aside self-criticism, we can be kinder to ourselves. We can look at our accomplishments and wins rather than judge our perceived shortcomings. When you catch yourself being critical, can you stop and see how you would present your observations and feedback to someone else. I believe we can still be reflective while also being constructive in our observations. Ask yourself, ‘is this how I would speak to, treat or judge someone else?’ and adjust accordingly.

I encourage you to be as thoughtful, understanding and supportive to yourself as you would be to others and see if the outcomes are kinder.

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