Written by Rachel Rubenstein
“Kindness begins with me” is Kid in The Corner’s theme of the month and the perfect topic to start our new year. Did you know that kindness is more than an act of being friendly, generous, and considerate to others? It is something we do for ourselves that then becomes contagious to others. Kindness can increase our self-esteem, our self-compassion and even our mood, but to be truly kind to others, we must first start with being kind to ourselves. Remember the airplane directive, “put your mask on first”? It serves as a powerful metaphor to take care of yourself first. It’s not self-indulgent but responsible and powerful to tend to ourselves so we can be kind and caring towards others. Our ability to balance the stressors of life, enhance healthy communication, and increase personal life satisfaction can make a huge difference in the kindness department.
The Kindness 101 Care Plan When we have a plan, it often is easier to achieve our goals, so let’s get to it. How do we be kind to ourselves? Here are a few tips:
Look at important areas of your life like work, school, relationships, health-mental and physical, family, etc. Think about how things are going for you in these areas. You might consider: Is this how I want things to be? Am I supportive of my wellbeing? Would I like this area of my life to be different?...or the same? Could I improve this area of my life? What might that look like? Could I find more joy and peace? Goals & Plans
Think about each area of your life and find one thing you can do to be happier and healthier. Small changes can make a big difference. This is where self-compassion comes into play. Create a plan on how to achieve more kindness and self-compassion. What new skills would be helpful to learn? Is there something you can be doing to ease stress and increase calm? SMART goals can be helpful but remember, keep it simple and make it achievable. "If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete." - Buddha Practice Self Compassion
My favorite part of creating kindness is self-compassion-how I treat myself. How I treat myself can directly impact my health (mental and physical), my joy and my quality of life. Kindness is a skill we learn. Neuroscientists have even named part of the brain called the “Care Circuit'' that can strengthen and grow with focused attention on ourselves. You can try to focus on calmness by regulating your own physical stress with deep breathing or pay attention to negative self-talk. Cultivate joy for yourself…it helps make kindness spread. Remember, kindness starts with you. For youth reading this article, kindness can be the greatest gift you give yourself and others. Try it! For adults who are helping youth at home learn to be healthy, happy and kind humans, remember that it starts with us. Modeling behaviors is a great way to teach. For more about kindness and self-compassion Read Tim Desmond’s “The Self-Compassion Skills Workbook.” You’ve got this!
Rachel Rubenstein LCSW is a psychotherapist and the owner of The Counseling Consultants PLLC in Scottsdale, Arizona. She and her team works with children, teens, adults, and families to assist others in finding solutions to some of life’s most common challenges. Rachel is also Executive Director of the Scottsdale Youth and Community Coalition, a professionals group dedicated to engage, educate and empower youth and families.www.ScottsdaleYouth.org . You can reach Rachel at 480.994.9773 for more information or to schedule an appointment.