Chances are, you’ve had moments where you were far from being gentle with yourself. Maybe you caught a glimpse of your reflection and thought, “Nope.” Or maybe you made a teeny, tiny mistake, and suddenly the constant nag in your head goes into overdrive.
You can yell at it until you’re blue, but, let’s be honest, the nag’s going to make an appearance again whether you like it or not. So what can you do? The solution is simple—be kind to yourself.
It’s the same sentiment Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani, co-founder of Mindvalley and author of Becoming Flawesome: The Key to Living an Imperfectly Authentic Life, had.
At 40, she found herself wondering why we, as a society, “demonize our flaws in the name of perfection” instead of celebrating them. And that led her to explore self-compassion so she could step into her “fully, unapologetically, 100%” authentic self.
The same goes for you, too—how you see and treat yourself is your choice to make. When you start with yourself, you create a positive chain reaction that can lead to kindness and compassion towards others. And that can lead to a more compassionate world.
What Does It Mean to Be Kind to Yourself?
Kindness toward yourself is filled with love, patience, empathy, understanding, and encouragement. It’s telling yourself, “You can do this,” over and over until you actually can. And while it’s a constant work in progress, there’s no room whatsoever for self-criticism and negative self-talk.
It’s like what Hermoine Granger said in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.” Well, fear of self-judgment only increases your judgment of yourself.
Let’s face it, we’ve all had moments where we’re our own worst critics. But here’s the thing: you don’t have to put up with that nonsense. As an ode to kindness, you can…
- Embrace your imperfections,
- Celebrate your uniqueness, and
- Treat yourself with the same love and kindness you would give to those you love.
As Kristina says in her Mindvalley Quest, Live by Your Own Rules, “There is no such thing as too much love for yourself.” So let’s flip the script and practice self-compassion.
Why Is It Important to Be Kind to Yourself?
Our inner voices can be a real “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” sometimes. But did you know that when you show kindness to yourself, it can greatly affect your life?
“When we relate to ourselves with tender self-compassion, we care for and nurture ourselves,” explains Dr. Kristin Neff, a pioneer of self-compassion, in her book, Fierce Self-Compassion. So here are some of the benefits you can reap:
- Stress goes down and resilience goes up. Research suggests that self-compassion can help reduce stress and increase resilience. So when you know how to be kind to yourself, you’re less likely to get caught up in negative self-talk and criticism.
- Physical health improves. One study, in particular, found that self-kindness can help lower your inflammation levels, boost your immune system, and lower the rate of chronic pain.
- Mood boosts. You’re likely to experience greater levels of happiness when you know how to treat yourself with care, according to one research.
- Relationships are better. A study looking at self-compassion led to emotional well-being and strong social connection. So when you’re kind to yourself, you’re likely to be kind to others.
- More motivation and productivity. With less stress and better moods, you’re likely to get more done. In fact, one study found that with compassion, goals are more likely to be pursued.
There’s so much goodness that comes from giving yourself the tender, loving care you deserve. And if you let yourself, you may just find yourself taking a page out of Kristina’s book and stepping into your “fully, unapologetically, 100%” authentic self.
5 Ways to Be Kind to Yourself, According to Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani
There’s no such thing as perfection. Yet, the goal of “perfection” is ingrained in many of us, and there are tons of examples that support it—that guy has a better body, that girl has prettier hair, and that family has such a great life.
This can lead to a never-ending cycle of comparison and self-criticism. But striving for perfection is not only unrealistic, it’s also harmful to your mental health.
So as Kristina says, “Your only moral duty is to be happy and at peace with yourself.” And with insights from her book, here are a few ways you can do so.
1. Find out what makes you happy
Happiness is like the Golden Snitch in Harry Potter. Catching it is possible, but if you’re not paying close attention, it can pass you by just like—snap fingers—that.
So take the time to figure out what brings you joy, be it seeking out the great coffee places in town, reading a good book, or whatever self-love routine you prefer. And then, make sure you’re doing more of it.
Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani’s insight: “The world doesn’t need your perfection. Neither does it need your sacrifice of personal well-being. What it needs is for you to be genuinely happy and at peace. It is important because it is when you are happy and at peace with yourself that you can offer the world the best of you.”
2. Don’t try too hard
If you give up at the first sign of hardship, you won’t get far. So a nudge here and there is healthy; it keeps you motivated and keeps you going.
It doesn’t do you any favors when you feel the need to constantly push yourself to do more, be more, and achieve more.
It’s, without a doubt, important to set goals for yourself. However, it’s equally important to recognize that you do have limits and cut yourself some slack when you need it.
Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani’s insight: “Let go and trust—this is what makes the difference. Both professionals and masters have to learn and practice their art, polish their skills and technique, but to become a true master, you need to learn to let go and trust yourself enough to create in the flow.”
3. Reflect on how you would want your life to be
What’s your ideal life? That’s the question, isn’t it? The question that we’re all dying to ask but have never been encouraged to.
Well, here’s your chance. Think about it, lay out your most audacious goals, and then actively work towards making them your reality. If you need a little help, try a little love-kindness meditation to get your gears turning.
Remember, though: be honest with yourself about what you truly want rather than just following what others expect of you.
Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani’s insight: “You do not need to pop that magic pill, nor buy whatever ‘they’ are selling as an answer. What you need is the courage and kindness to face your fears and be honest with yourself. Brutally honest.”
4. “Fix” yourself, not others
If you’ve ever been in the comment section of social media, chances are, you’ve read people’s opinions of how others should or shouldn’t do life. Those are the people who make it their mission to “fix” others to meet their expectations.
But, because there’s no such thing as perfection, no one really needs “fixing.” So focus on your own growth and self-improvement. And more importantly, have the self-respect to recognize that you can only control your own actions and behaviors.
Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani’s insight: “No one needs ‘fixing.’ Some people may need help, but they will come and ask for it when they are ready. They will find their teacher when they are ready. And it might not be you.”
5. Let go of your need for perfection
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,” says Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The wise words are a reminder that chasing dreams can distract you from experiencing all the wonders and beauty of your life.
A major part of self-love is embracing your flaws and imperfections. And instead of striving for an unrealistic ideal, focus on living your life in the present moment and appreciating yourself for who you are.
Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani’s insight: “It’s when we come to love, accept and integrate our flawesomeness, our true selves, where the dance gets interesting, fun and fulfilling. Studying for personal growth is like learning the steps and drilling your dance technique, but your dance is, and forever will be, uniquely yours. Uniquely flawesome.”
“Be Kind to Yourself” Quotes
Whenever you feel unsure of yourself, it can help to turn to the wisdom of others. They’re there to remind you that self-compassion is much like Dumbledore of the Harry Potter series—without him, Harry would still be living in a closet under the stairs.
So take a deep breath, read through the quotes, and remember to be kind to yourself.
- “If you can learn to be kind and compassionate to yourself, you can learn to be truly kind and compassionate to others.” — Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani, co-founder of Mindvalley and author of Becoming Flawesome: The Key to Living an Imperfectly Authentic Life
- “Being human is not about being any one particular way; it is about being as life creates you—with your own particular strengths and weaknesses, gifts and challenges, quirks and oddities.” ― Kristin Neff, pioneer on self-compassion and author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
- “Kindness begins with how we treat our own thoughts.” ― Gelong Thubten, Buddhist monk and trainer of Mindvalley’s Becoming More Loving Quest
- “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” — The 14th Dalai Lama
- “My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.” — Maya Angelou, American memoirist
- “What we say to ourselves in the privacy of our own minds matters.” — Marie Forleo, author of Everything Is Figureoutable
- “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” — Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Self-kindness is not a one-off thing; it’s a lifelong practice. It takes time and effort, but if there’s anyone who deserves it most, it’s you.
Sprinkle Kindness Around Like Confetti
Kindness is not only about compassion, it’s also about courage. It requires you to see the beauty in your flaws and appreciate yourself because of them.
Remember what Dumbledore said in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: “We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” It’s not always easy to choose to be kind to yourself. However, it’s always the right choice.
Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani’s book, Becoming Flawesome: The Key to Living an Imperfectly Authentic Life, is a powerful tribute to just that—the beauty of your flaws. And accepting your imperfections as perfect starts with sprinkling kindness on yourself.