You have probably heard the hokey-sounding line, “You can’t love others until you love yourself,” or something similar a million times.
The annoying thing is, it’s true. If you can’t be kind to yourself, if you can’t give yourself understanding or compassion, you will simply be unable to give those things to others in a meaningful way.
When I’ve had a hard day, when I feel like I’ve performed in a mediocre or sub-par fashion, when the nit-picky, perfectionist part of me starts to get down on my human, imperfect reality, it helps me to look at this picture. It’s on the back of a little hand mirror that resides on my dresser among all of my little tchotchke jewelry boxes. When I look at that cute, smiling face, I remember that I was once a cheerful, blameless child who looked at a big, safe world with hope. I remember that that child is still inside me, hanging out awkwardly with an unkempt, t-shirt wearing 11 year old, an angry Docs-wearing 15 year old, and so on. It makes me soften and smile at my 33 year old self, and give her a break.
When I remember to do this for myself, it makes it easier for me to face outward and do it for others. I know that most of the time, I am doing my best. I can only assume the same for others. Everyone else was also once a smiling, blameless child. Our adult selves have become our dominating feature, but that doesn’t change the reality of our vulnerability and humanity. We are all deserving of kindness.