Are you struggling with finding kindness?
As a widow and sole parent, looking after the emotions of my boys 24/7 is my absolute biggest hurdle. The reality is that I (and many other women) don't have the opportunity to tap out and let a partner take over.
It can be exhausting and relentless.
But I'll keep on cracking on, and then I'll have a work/family/friend/relationship scenario and the overwhelm builds and I really start to lose it.
You would know the feeling. I feel the heat rise, my shoulders stiffen or my teeth will feel like they will explode with the grinding.
So today I’m going to pull on my big girl yoga pants and talk about kindness, both to yourself and to others. In our house kindness is our number 1 value, at least I tell the boys that. I figure if I tell them enough times it might sink in… even if they are wrestling at the time. (boys are like puppies – I have the videos to prove it).
In Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, the Yamas are the very first steps along the path of yoga and self-awareness. The first Yama is Ahimsa - which is non-violence (towards yourself and others). I spent a long time teaching yoga, and truthfully the philosophy was not my strongest area, but I always remembered this one.
Yoga philosophy may not be your thing, but everyone needs a little kindness - whether it is towards yourself or to others. I try to keep this top of mind and work to be a little kinder towards everyone in my circle, and if all else fails send some good vibes out to the world.
Here are my tips for bringing some kindness back into your world.
I meditate often. Some weeks more than others, some days multiple times. Sometimes for 3 mins, sometimes for longer. But it is the conscious breath that is really important to bring calm, and self-reflection to bring kindness.
When you meditate, try to breathe into your belly rather than chest. Breathing into the belly activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Think of it as a Valium for your body, with a better hit. It makes it a little easier to feel kinder to yourself and others.
Understand your own reactions
This is something I often do as part of my meditation. I take a deep breath, and examine what my own reaction to an emotion is. I study the emotion, how it is affecting my body both physically and mentally, and that in itself can calm my reaction....and help me 'find my kind'.
Put yourself in other’s shoes
If someone is triggering me, and I’ve had time to breathe (see the thread here) I can take the time to try to see how they are feeling. Not that they are right per se, but perhaps they’ve had a bad day too, or they are stressed and taking it out on you. Or there are outside factors that are impacting their responses.
Take some time before you react
It's easy to jump on board with someone else's words or actions. It's far easier to go along with a negative thrown out into the world than to challenge it. I sometimes find myself jumping to a conclusion or agreeing with a statement from another, then I have a little internal review and remember it's not what I think at all. I have set myself a challenge to not simply agree with others, but make no comment until I have all of my own information...or take myself back to previous step.
Put yourself in 'time out'
If all else fails….remove yourself until you feel a little kinder, or less flammable!
It’s not always easy. Walk, run, gym, long shower, hide out in the car – do what you need to do. Remove yourself from whatever it is and take some deep breaths. 10 should be a good start.
With two boys, one of them deep in teenage hormones, it's so easy to be shouty all the time. They tell me constantly. I try and find the kindness where I can.
I've gotta say, some days are definitely easier than others...
PS. This little kindness charm bracelet I wear every day and is from Igniting Change. It was designed in collaboration with Kit Willow, founder of KITX. The charms are hand made by Cambodian artisans from up cycled exploded land mines and spent bullets, and packaged by the students of Giant Steps school, supporting young people with autism. You can find out more and buy them here (I keep them on hand as presents for friends.)