I made a commitment to myself when I became a mom that I would not pass on my insecurities to my children, that I would keep all the struggles and self-esteem issues I faced most of my life to myself. I always heard that kids would become what they saw in their parents, and I wanted to present a positive outlook in how I regarded myself so that they would do the same.
I'd only pass on the good things.
I'd hide the rest.
But, guess what? It's way easier to keep your feelings from a toddler who thinks you are the queen of the world than a 16-year-old girl with whom you spend most of your time, who knows you well enough to see when you are struggling. Someone who is perceptive and walks beside you instead of running behind. Soon to merge ahead, coming into her own.
These are the years when it gets real. You can't hide behind a sippy cup and snack distribution. You're looking eye to eye. Living heart to heart.
I recently went through one of my not-so-hidden moments of doubt and angst, expressing and showing my deep down feelings of failure and insecurity. Not really proud about the words I said out loud, being the example that I didn't want to be. A big mom fail. Then, some incredible words came out of my sweet girl. Words that were so simple, yet full of wisdom. Said with ease and confidence, showing that I'm not always the teacher—I'm also a student.
Four words, uttered in a soft voice: "Be kind to yourself."
She said, little girl grown up and all smart.
And I thought, When did you get so wise, saying things that stop me in my tracks? Words that I always wanted you to have the confidence to say, saying them to me in my weak moments. Words that I should be expressing, but coming out of you with so much truth.
We all could use a little kindness directed to ourselves. She was so right. Perhaps it's time to care about the state of our own hearts, and recognize that self-worth grows with self-care.
Maybe being kind to ourselves means:
Not obsessing with perfection. The dishes can wait for the night, the house will always need cleaning and we'll never be the perfect size. Shake life up with a little imperfection.
Forgiving ourselves when we do something wrong. Throwing and receiving all the punches is wearisome. Let's give ourselves a break, and stop the punishing. Let it go.
Taking time to do something we love without guilt. Have a night out. Do something you love. Take time to laugh and find the things that bring you joy.
Letting go of pain. People are going to hurt us, and things are not always going to be the way we thought they would be. Release it from your hands and walk to what is ahead.
Loving who we are been created to be. Live in the confidence and trust of our Creator. Stop zooming in on what's not right and deleting all the things that don't measure up. Zoom out and capture what surrounds your life, take off the filters.
Stopping the comparison. There will always be something that looks better than what we have. Live with gratefulness and don't wish away what's been placed in your hands.
We're taught at a young age to be kind to others.
Always be kind.
All those things are all true.
But as you spread kindness wherever you go,
Let some of it trickle back.
In the words of a wise (sometimes a little sassy) 16-year-old: Be kind to yourself.
Shelly Calcagno is a Toronto-based author, blogger and speaker.
This article originally appeared at shellycalcagno.com.
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