8 Ways To Be So Much Kinder To Yourself. Starting Today.
Love is kind. When it comes to how the Good Book defines love, the first word that is used is "patient." The second? It's kind. I can't tell you how many times I've sat in a counseling session with a married couple and been like, "Wow. Have y'all ever been kind to one another? Like…ever?" I also can't keep up with how many times I've noticed people whose words and actions, about and towards themselves, seem to be lacking in kindness too.
And since I wholeheartedly believe that there is absolutely no way that you can claim to love anyone, including yourself, without exhibiting vast levels of kindness, I thought it would be a good idea to share with y'all some helpful ways to start being kinder to yourself. So that you can see yourself in a better life. So that you can love yourself (even) more.
1. Determine to Extend to Yourself Kindness, Compassion and Respect
Recently, someone asked me to name three things that I thought people who are too hard on themselves were lacking. What immediately came to mind was kindness, compassion, and respect. And just what do all of these things look like when it comes to how you should express them to yourself?
To be kind is to be considerate, gentle, and even indulgent. That said, do you constantly put other people's feelings and needs above your own, even to your detriment? If so, you're not being very kind to yourself. When you make mistakes, do you constantly rehash them and blame yourself to the point of invoking emotional self-abuse? If so, you're not being very kind to yourself. Are you the one who constantly gives to others and yet you can't recall the last time you did something special for yourself? If so, you're not being very kind to yourself.
Compassion? Self-compassion is all about doing what the definition of compassion speaks about — "a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering". When something bad — or even unpreferred — happens to you, it's OK to extend sympathy, yes, to yourself. And when you are truly self-compassionate, you tend to be proactive as all get out about figuring out how to limit the time of suffering that you must endure. That might mean that a break-up requires going to therapy. Or that the end of a friendship will cause you to want to get closure so that there is peace between the two of you. Or if you've had a health scare, rather than beating yourself up over what you think you could've done differently, you figure out how to move more wisely going forward.
And respect? Respect is about esteem and esteem is about being valued. Do you require that the people in your life treat you like they value you? While we're at it, do you treat yourself like you value yourself? So much chaos, confusion, and frustration could be alleviated if we made it a point and practice to be kinder, more compassionate, and required to be treated with respect in this life.
2. Schedule in Quality Time with Yourself
By this time, I'm pretty sure you know what the five love languages are — physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, and quality time. Yet when it comes to loving on yourself, how good are you at expressing your own top two love languages? While my love languages are physical touch and words of affirmation, when it comes to being kind to myself, I know that all five need to be applied and that quality time, especially, needs to be a top priority.
Quality time with yourself is about turning off your notifications and reading a book. Quality time with yourself is about taking your own self on a date every once in a while. Quality time with yourself is about going on a walk before breakfast or after dinner, just to clear your mind. Quality time with yourself is about pulling out a piece of paper and writing down things that you like about yourself and are proud of. Quality time with yourself is about really listening to your mind, body, and spirit so that you can acknowledge when one or all of these areas express exhaustion or the need for some sort of pampering.
I don't know about y'all but the older that I get, the more I realize that 24 hours go by pretty quickly, and oftentimes, a lot of that time, goes to everyone but myself. Well, it used to be that way. For the past few years, I am all about giving myself some much-needed quality time. And you know what? I'm much calmer and far more focused and centered because of it.
3. Master the Art of Self-Comfort
Recently, I took a trip to go visit my goddaughters. One is 10 and the other is 2. Something that the two-year-old has mastered in a way that the 10-year-old hasn't (yet) is the ability to self-soothe. And boy, if that won't preach, I don't know what will! Although we are not an island, it's still important to know how to comfort oneself instead of always relying on other people to do it. Why? For one thing, folks are human and humans are fallible which means, at some point, they are going to disappoint you. Secondly, no one should be given so much power that if you have a need that they can't — or won't — meet, you are instantly in shambles because of it.
If you get bad news and your bestie pushes you to voicemail, you should be able to comfort yourself. If you had a hard day and your partner can't immediately discuss it with you, you should be able to comfort yourself. If you have moments when you don't feel as insecure as you would like, you should be able to comfort yourself. At the end of the day, self-comfort is all about being able to reassure yourself that you're a good person, that things are going to work out in due time and you're going to be OK until they are — and until that happens, you will figure out how to make yourself more comfortable in your reality.
Self-comfort is a superpower that doesn't get nearly enough props. I promise you that if you master it, it will totally change your life.
4. Devote Time, Each Day, to Your Dreams/Passions
A motto that I made up and live by, more and more, is "Chase nothing. You were born with your purpose and even your dreams come to you, so chase nothing." Instead, honor your dreams and passions by investing some of your time and talent into them. Not every once in a while. Not even for an hour, a couple of times each month. While you're in the process of putting your to-do list together, carve out 20 minutes to do something as it directly relates to a personal goal that you want to achieve.
The reason why this should be seen as an act of kindness is that just think about it — every day, a lot of us give someone else 6-12 hours of our time, oftentimes to build their dreams and passions on some level. By being intentional about setting some time aside for your gifts, your ambitions, your desires, it reminds you that what you want to manifest is important; so important that it deserves your undivided attention — not occasionally…daily.
5. Learn What Your Limits Are
As a survivor of many forms of abuse, whenever I'm asked to simplify that definition of abuse, while I do like what I once heard Dr. Phil say many years ago (that it's the "abnormal use of something"), I think it's about dismissing or disrespecting someone's limits; especially after someone has stated what they are. This goes back to my goddaughters again. As close as I am to them, whenever I see them, I don't rush to touch them. I let them know that I am thrilled to be in their presence, that I love them, and then either I will ask for a hug or wait for them to come to me. That's because their personal space is their personal space. A part of the reason why I'm so hypersensitive to this is that I grew up around people who, quite frankly, didn't give a damn about my boundaries — even to the point of giving me diaries, reading them, and then punishing me for what they read.
Even as an adult, in real-time, I will state certain things that I don't want to happen as it directly relates to myself, and some of my relatives will railroad right over what I said and do what they want anyway. Disrespectful. Whew, so disrespectful. And when we grow up not having people to 1) teach us boundaries and/or 2) honor our boundaries, we can grow up not knowing how to set the proper limits either. That results in us being people pleasers and/or exhausting ourselves and/or feeling bad whenever we say "no." Listen, people who truly love and respect you are going to adhere to your limits because they will want you to do the same for them. If you have gone so long without having any — or providing consequences to those who dishonor them — this is a textbook example of not being very kind to yourself. Isn't it about time that you start?
6. Treat Yourself. Daily.
When it comes to self-care content, you are probably never going to see a time when I'm not going to shout out the importance of treating yourself in some shape, form, or fashion. First, it gives you something to look forward to. Second, it reminds you of how important it is to reward — "something given or received in return or recompense for service, merit, hardship, etc." — yourself. Third, it "programs" you into the habit of doing something special for yourself, just because.
So, whether it's a pedicure after work, a luxurious bubble bath at home (check out "How About You Treat Yourself To A Luxurious Fall-Themed Bath?"), some takeout from your favorite restaurant (check out "10 Safety Practices For Ordering Takeout (During A Pandemic)"), a half a pint of your favorite ice cream (wink), or hopping on a site to purchase something that you've been eyeing for a while now — get used to planning to treat yourself. Not (just) on your birthday. Not only on special occasions.
Hell, every day is a special occasion, if you ask me. Be kind to yourself by loving on yourself by treating yourself. It's a simple practice that goes a really long way.
7. End Each Day, Acknowledging the Things You Did Well
It never fails. Whenever I ask someone to list five things that they like and then five things that they don't like about themselves, they ALWAYS start off with the "dislike" side. While there really is such a thing as a "negative bias" (which is why it's important to be hypervigilant about the amount of negativity that you take in from people and devices on a daily basis), oftentimes we can "rewire our brain" by focusing on the positive more often. One way to do that is to make a commitment to yourself, each and every day, to not close your eyes until you have vocally acknowledged at least three things that you did well that day. If it was showing up to work early, say it. If it was biting your tongue to keep the peace with someone who lives to trigger you, say it. If it was choosing not to break your budget to get something that honestly can wait a few more weeks, say it.
There is plenty of scientific data to support the fact that when we say things out loud, that makes it easier for us to remember them. So, make a promise to yourself, right here and right now, that you won't let one more day go by without "clapping for yourself", verbally, for a job well done — so that you can get used to "staying in the light" by thinking about the more positive side of things; especially as it relates to yourself.
8. Let Each Day Go at the End of Each One
This final point, oh, I'm preaching to the choir, right here, chile. You know, there's a Scripture in the Bible that says, "'Be angry, and do not sin': do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil." (Ephesians 4:26-27 — NKJV) I like these verses because 1) they're a reminder that there is nothing wrong with being angry; you just need to make wise choices in your anger and 2) they drive home the fact that holding a grudge is basically begging for trouble up the road — that it really is best to learn how to just…let things go.
For the record, I personally don't think that "letting things go" means not holding people accountable if they wronged you, that you should suppress your feelings if something doesn't sit well with you or that you should pretend like things are OK when they clearly aren't. To me, letting go is 1) purposing in your mind to control only what you can; 2) deciding to "state your cause" when the time is right and not nag once you do; 3) forgiving so that you aren't harboring negativity; 4) extending the grace and mercy that you would want to receive if the shoe was on the other foot; 5) not letting what happened yesterday have some much power over you that it wrecks an entirely new day.
Meditation can help you do this. Prayer can help you do this. Sharing your feelings in a safe space like with your spouse, significant other, or a close friend can help you to do this. Just make sure that you do it. Because when you make the choice to not internalize, harbor, or constantly rehearse things, it can prevent you from feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or totally stressed out.
Yep, letting stuff go is definitely an act of kindness because it ultimately helps you approach things from a place of peace and productiveness instead of bitterness and stagnation. And when you do this, you are being good to yourself — and when that transpires, life oftentimes is kinder to you as well. Hmph. Funny how that plays out, huh? Yeah. Exactly.
Featured image by Getty Images
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
What would you do if you just got laid off from your corporate job and you had a serendipitous encounter with someone who gave you the opportunity of a lifetime? Tamara Taylor was faced with that decision in 2013 after she was let go from her sales profit and operations coach job in the restaurant industry and met a then-up-and-coming stylist, Law Roach, on a flight to L.A. She and Roach struck up a conversation, and he shared how he was looking for someone to run his business and was impressed by her skills. While she took his business card, she was unsure if it would lead to anything. But, boy, was she wrong. Two weeks later, after packing up her home to move back to her hometown of Chicago, she called Roach; he asked if they could meet the following day, and the rest is herstory.
Taylor founded Mastermind MGMT, an agency that represents some of Hollywood’s best “image architects” like Roach, Kellon Deryck, and Kollin Carter, who are responsible for creating unforgettable style and beauty moments for celebrities like Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, Taraji P. Henson, and more. Taylor and her company possess an array of functions, but her biggest role is to be her client’s advocate. We hear endless stories about how creatives aren’t paid or underpaid in the entertainment industry, but Taylor ensures that her clients get their piece of the pie. The entrepreneur opened up about her company and her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, in an exclusive interview with xoNecole.
“I always say that I'm an artist advocate first, deal closer second. So my primary focus is to just make sure that the artist is getting everything that they deserve, whether it's compensation or, you know, certain accommodations, but just making sure that they have everything that they need to be able to show up and provide the best service that they're hired for,” she explained.
“So you know, in the beginning, it was hard because I didn't have any experience, and the artists who I was working with at the time–we were learning together, meaning neither of us had assisted anyone. We didn't have mentors in our specific fields. So every deal was like a new learning experience for us from the styling side and also from the business side, and so it took, you know, doing some research, using some very creative tactics, to find out information in the industry and just starting to request accommodations that I knew other artists were granted, who maybe didn't look like my artists.”
Photo courtesy of Tamara Taylor
Ten years later, there’s still not many people who are doing what Taylor is doing. However, things have gotten easier thanks to the research and connections she made in the beginning. During Mastermind MGMT’s ten-year anniversary celebration, she announced her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that focuses on helping young entrepreneurs through a 12-week program. The program is divided into “two routes.” The first route is for aspiring creative artists who want to start a business from their talent and all the things they need to learn about business, such as taxes, life insurance, etc. The second route is for practicing creative artists who are already in the industry but need resources such as how to plan for retirement or how to sustain themselves if they can’t work for a short amount of time, i.e., the pandemic.
“I just feel that I'm able to have a business and be successful because of their art as well. And so there are things that I know, I tried to teach it to them but understanding that I can only do so much because I'm not a subject matter expert in those fields,” she said. “So I at least want to be able to provide the resources, and then if they make their grown decision not to do it, then that's on them. But you know, I could be guilt-free and taking advantage of the resources that I'm also providing to them.”
Taylor continues to be an innovator in her industry by always pushing the boundaries of creativity and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. The Chicago-bred businesswoman is moving into the tech space thanks to a new invention created with her clients in mind, and she is looking forward to bigger collaborations in the future. Follow Mastermind MGMT on Instagram @mastermind_mgmt for more information.
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Feature image courtesy of Tamara Taylor