Be Kind to Yourself

When I meet new people, the first thing that comes to mind is what they’d tell a younger version of themselves if they had the chance. It’s a question that demands vulnerability on the part of responders, and it’s a most rewarding one, because I catch the light in their eyes as they think back on precious moments and hard times, and what they learned from them. As they reply, I listen and take notes. Something that holds true for everyone I’ve come across is that there’s never just one thing or one lesson that changed it all.

I have pages of notes I’ve taken, with quotes, affirmations, lessons, you name it, that I reflect on all the time. They help ground and remind me that we’re all yearning for the same things: to be loved and accepted as we are and to be happy, whatever that means for each of us. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received has helped me understand that in order for others to love us as we are, we must first love and accept ourselves.

I’m a perfectionist—I’m sure many of you can relate—and I’m very critical of myself. I pick at my appearance, performance, and relationships. Because I’ve gotten wrapped up in the weight I haven’t lost, the skills I have yet to learn, and the times I wasn’t so graceful, I’ve missed out on the milestones I surpassed to get where I am. It leaves me feeling as if I haven’t accomplished anything at all, when in reality, I’ve come a long way.

When I went to a dear friend and expressed sadness about my weight, she told me she wished she had appreciated how she looked when she was younger because she now recognizes how beautiful she was. This hit me, and I realized that it applies to much more than my appearance. She taught me a lesson in self-love that I’ll never forget: Love yourself and give yourself grace because one day you’ll remember yourself fondly and wish you were her again. There’s always something we can change or tweak, and in the moment, it may be the only thing we see, but in the grand picture of life, it won’t matter. Years later, when we look back at a picture of ourselves, we won’t remember such petty things—only the great memories we have and how we felt living them.

We all want to be loved and accepted for who we are, and we all want to be happy, but happiness starts from within. Give yourself grace and be kind to yourself in the moment because ten years from now, you’ll look back and wish you were living it again.