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.
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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. ;)
This post is in partnership with BET+.
Kingdom Business is back for its second season, with even more sermons, songs, and serpents. The series picks up where it left off, with actress Serayah as Rbel caught between the stripper pole and the pulpit. With the first lady of the church working desperately against her, Rbel must find a way to live her dreams and honor her friend while figuring out her faith in the process.
Season one served a collection plate of rivalry, deceit, and revenge –– among many other tribulations. Between the 28-year-old’s acting, conviction, and harmonious voice, here are a few reasons why season two of Kingdom Business is a must-watch.
If the Spirit Doesn’t Move You, Serayah’s Singing Voice Will
Rbel, formally known as Rebecca Belle, is a stripper whose life forcibly takes a turn after suffering a tragedy. Through her quest to find the truth, Rbel finds herself at odds with the head of a local church, First Kingdom’s Denita Jordan, played by the legendary Yolanda Adams. Rbel unknowingly emerges as what a faithful Christian embodies: a perfectly imperfect human who works every day to try their best while leaning on God. Although struggling with her faith, each ballad sung by Rbel can be felt, as the lyrics relate to personal struggles we all endure in different ways. Gospel songs hit differently when your life is in shambles, and chile, Serayah is singing new life into folks.
Serayah is a Formidable Opponent to The Yolanda Adams
As one of the best-selling gospel artists of all time, it’s no easy task to take on the role of a person on the opposing side of greatness. Serayah’s Rbel does an excellent job meeting Jordan at her level while shining through her solos. Throughout season one, Rbel emerges as a top streaming artist, an accomplishment that begets something of a holy war.
Serayah’s Acting Range is Engaging
As a former stripper trying to make a name for herself in the gospel industry, you can imagine the struggles that could come with it. Rbel goes through a range of emotions, all understandable and relatable. Despite several crises of faith, Serayah ensures Rbel delivers a humbling performance that makes the audience root for her redemption.
The Kingdom Business Soundtrack is Everything
Streaming now on Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music, the Kingdom Business: Season 1 soundtrack is one you’d want to add to your playlist for high and low times. Aside from four soul-soothing songs from Serayah, the soundtrack also features singles from co-star/Hamilton’s Chaundre-Hall Broomfield, gospel artist Chandler Moore, and legend Yolanda Adams.
Serayah’s Rbel Makes You Root For Her
With First Kingdom beginning to crumble under the pressure of lies, infidelity, and deception, Rbel’s window to take that top spot seems wide open; however, the end of season one showed us the Spirit had other plans. Whether you believe or not, Serayah’s Rbel makes you want to see her win. Who doesn’t love a good underdog with a laid 22” bust down? Whether she seeks Him or not, God is proving to be on Rbel’s side. But is it enough to turn everything around for her? Will Rbel lean on faith or fear?
With secrets coming to light, success within reach, and the devastating conclusion of season one, you don’t want to miss season two––especially with more guest collaborations. Kingdom Business returns to BET+ on Nov 2.
BET+ Original | Kingdom Business | S2 Official Traileryoutu.be
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A few years ago, I penned a piece for the platform that had some readers super hot. It was entitled, “Why I Prefer My Friends To NOT Be Friends With Each Other.” For some reason, they thought that my resolve was about insecurity. What’s hilarious is some of those very people ended up writing me, some months later, to say that they actually got where I was coming from after going through a few things in their own world.
Listen, when it comes to my friends who were already friends with each other, it’s whatever. Beyond that, though, it has served me well to keep that kind of “You’ve got your friends, and I’ve got mine” type of boundary — not just when it comes to my relationships but my friends and their friends whom I am not friends with as well. For one thing, I can decide what I want known and what I don’t want known; when all of your friends are friends, all kinds of assumptions about who can and should know what can be made that could be dead wrong.
Another reason? Friendships come in levels — in other words, no one should assume that just because I am friends with multiple people that the closeness or intimacy is the same with others as it is with them. So, if everyone is cool with each other and not exactly close, I don’t have to worry about that. And these reasons are just the tip of my iceberg.
Besides, it’s not like this “rule” of mine affects a ton of people. I say that because I don’t call a ton of people my “friend” in the first place. One reason is because I think that “friend” is a very serious title to have, one that comes with a lot of mutual responsibility and reciprocity. Secondly, I know that there is A LOT of space in between “friend” and “enemy.” That’s why, when I first happened upon the whole “five friendship theory” notion, it made complete and total sense to me.
If you’re not familiar with what that is, let’s discuss it today to see if you agree that it’s truly onto something — that you are rich beyond measure if you’ve got five solid friends. Not only that, but it’s probably, in most instances, a wise number to both start and stop at.
First of All, What’s Your Personal Definition of “Friend”?Giphy
In order for you to really appreciate the theory and where the notion is actually coming from, first ponder how you would define the word “friend” to begin with. If you’d like a few articles to jumpstart your brain, check out “10 Things You Should Absolutely Expect From Your Friendships,” “10 Signs You’ve Got A Close (TOXIC) Friend,” and “Allow These Things To Happen Before Calling Someone 'Friend.'”
Me personally? My friends are closer to me than a ton of my blood relatives are. There are sweet sentiments behind that and also, sometimes, top-tier inconveniences as well (check out “Life Taught Me That True Friendships Are 'Inconvenient'”). Wait — did I mean to say “inconvenient”? Indeed, I did. Sometimes I’ve paid bills for a friend. Sometimes I’ve been awakened in the middle of the night by a friend. Sometimes, quite frankly, I’ve done things that I don’t even remotely want to do yet because my friend asked, it was as good as done. Why? Because my friends have done/will do those same things for me. And that’s a huge part of the reason why I don’t use the word casually.
That’s how I see my friendships, though. When it comes to your own, what do you require? What do your friends require of you? And when you factor in all that comes with both of those questions, how much time, effort, energy, and resources do you have to devote to multiple people?
This brings me to my next point.
Now, Let’s Explore Why You Can Probably Only Maintain Five FriendshipsGiphy
Earlier this year, The Guardian published an article entitled, “Five intimate friendships is the optimal amount – I scrape two.” Long story short, she was talking about how she finds it easier to maintain relationships that are close by rather than long-distance ones. While I get her overall point, most of my friends have lives that are just as, if not more, full as my own whether we live in the same city or not. In fact, one of my closest friends is in another state, and we talk more than some of the people who are 10 miles away from me; so, in many ways, I think the author’s point has to do with her personal friendship love language (check out “This Is How To Apply Love Languages To Your Friendships”) and her personal approach to relationships.
However, what her narrative did confirm is that, especially as adults, our plates are full. Therefore, to be able to nurture a true friendship in the way that it truly deserves, you’re probably only going to be able to consistently manage about five of them (especially if you’re married and/or have children). And honestly, there is nothing wrong with that. It really is time for (some of) us to stop thinking that life is one big high school.
What I mean by that is, when we were teenagers, a big part of how many of us defined friendship was by how popular or liked we were. Now, our friendships need to be about who supports us, who nurtures us, and who helps to make us better people. Friendship needs to be seen from the angle and perspective of a quote that I once read by actor Amy Poehler: “Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you; spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life."
Spend a lot of time with them. Chile, when you’re thriving in your purpose (regardless of your relational status), who has a lot of time for much of anything outside of that? This part actually reminds me of some things that I’ve heard stated by a Black influencer who goes by Only One Jess say about learning how to navigate some of her (what she calls) high-maintenance friends vs. low-maintenance ones. I believe she’s 31, and I’m not (LOL)…time evolves a lot of insights of friendship navigation; however, she’s got a solid point when it comes to different kinds of friends need different things, especially when you know that you are living “in your lane”— which is another reason why “five” is a pretty solid number. Not to mention the fact that, biblically, “5” actually means grace (and yes, friendships need quite a bit of that as well).
So yeah — if you’re committed and consistent, five (especially close) friendships may be just about all that you can manage. Does this mean that you can’t have other people in your world? Of course, not. Remember how I said that there is a lot of space between friend and enemy? Let me expound on that for just a sec.
Have You Ever Wondered What Your Own “People Bandwidth” Is?Giphy
Someone who is in my personal top five talks about bandwidth quite a bit. One definition of that word is literally “a range of frequencies” while another is “the energy or mental capacity required to deal with a situation.” It’s another article for another time to be careful about making sure that your life isn’t filled with a lot of people who pretty much do nothing more than drain your energy; however, when it comes to what we’re tackling today — what do you have the energy and mental capacity for, overall, when it comes to your relationships with other people?
According to a British anthropologist by the name of Robin Dunbar, no human can properly maintain more than 150 relationships; not close friendships, mind you — no, he’s speaking of relevant connections, in general. Based on his findings, any number above that is not going to have much longevity. OK, so how does he break all of this down? Good question.
Per an article I read that explains the theory well:
“According to the theory, the tightest circle has just five people – loved ones. That’s followed by successive layers of 15 (good friends), 50 (friends), 150 (meaningful contacts), 500 (acquaintances) and 1500 (people you can recognise). People migrate in and out of these layers, but the idea is that space has to be carved out for any new entrants.”
From what I’ve read and researched on the topic, our brain literally doesn’t have the ability to properly and responsibly handle more than this. So, with his theory being in front of you, do you agree? Do you really only have the “bandwidth” for five close friends and then the “bandwidth” for no more than 150, as he puts it, meaningful contacts? Now, before you answer, let me bring more one point into the dynamic.
Remember, There Are Always “Levels” to This ThingGiphy
Live on this earth long enough (which, let’s be real, that includes being disappointed by enough people), and you’ll learn that friendships ARE NOT a monolith. Indeed, there are plenty of layers to them. That’s why I wrote articles like “Always Remember That Friendships Have 'Levels' To Them” and “According To Aristotle, We Need ‘Utility’, ‘Pleasure’ & ‘Good’ Friends.”
When it comes to the Aristotle piece, his theory is that we need work/career/purpose (which aren’t exactly the same things), friends, friends who we can kick it with (you may have common interests), and then friends who build your character. Based on what your priorities are at any given time, you may have more “bandwidth” for one of those types of friends more than the others.
The point here is that, as you start to sort out what it means, TO YOU, to call someone “friend” and then you begin to branch out, please don’t feel like everyone has to check off all of the same boxes — they absolutely do not.
I’ve got some friends who I will drop everything right now and tend to. Then, I have meaningful connections. Yeah, I really like that “space” between friend and enemy because some people really can mean a lot to you, but you wouldn’t exactly consider them to be a “friend.” Right now, I’ve got someone in my life who is going through a super challenging situation. We’re not friends, yet I do care profoundly about them, so I’ve been intentional about making time for them, weekly, until their particular storm passes.
Yeah, one of the things about applying Dunbar and Aristotle’s theories to your life is you can start to categorize who fits where and when — without getting confused or even feeling bad about it. Your “levels” can make you handle your bandwidth with extreme care before it — or you — up and snaps because you simply have nothing left to give.
Never Be Apologetic for Having a “Friend Limit”Giphy
A part of the reason why I thought it was important to write this article is because I think that most of us have had one time or another when we’ve felt bad for not having it in us to give as much as people expect. It’s also another message for another time, how important it is to make sure that if you’re “stretching yourself thin,” it’s for people who would do the same for you. For many years, I was stretching out, and it was completely one-sided…and that is why I was so tapped out. Yet — and please hear me when I say this — even when it comes to reciprocators, it’s still okay to have friend limits.
Some people laugh at the Gemini in me and/or the Shellie in me, who will be quick to tell someone who expects certain things of me (simply because they decided that they should have it), “We aren’t friends; I do that for my friends.” And again, only people who think there are two relational teams only (friends and enemies) would be offended by that. Not everyone is your spouse; it’s an esteemed title.
The more you value friendship, not everyone should be called “friend” either.
So yeah, whether you agree with Dunbar and your limit is five or you’ve got 20 — your limit is your limit. Be okay with being okay with that…it doesn’t matter who else isn’t. You know your bandwidth, your energy level, your mental capacity; that’s all that matters.
Aight. Let me hop off of this thing in order to tend to one of my “top five”.
I’m telling you, this theory can be so freeing. At least…consider applying it.
When it comes to the quality of your relationships, it could be a real game-changer.
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