By Megan Erbacher
I can’t recall the first time I heard or saw the simple phrase, and now it seems so familiar that I don’t remember a time without it: Be kind.
I’m not sure who first started it, and there are multiple ways to express it, including just be kind, dare to be kind and a quote often referenced to Jennifer Dukes Lee: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
While passing on kindness to others is essential, and I believe the world can always use more kindness, isn’t it just as important to be kind to ourselves?
As I was chatting with family over the long Memorial Day weekend, my sister-in-law advised me: “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” I thought for a moment and admitted in my head that I tend to be overly critical of myself.
So why, when it comes to loved ones, is it so easy to celebrate their successes but so difficult to recognize our own? When we lift-up others so naturally, why do we fail to also be our own cheerleader?
In the April 24 issue of The Message, we ran a Catholic News Service story on Poor Clare Sisters who live in New Orleans. The story discussed how the coronavirus forced them to change guidelines and has temporarily impacted their ministry, but they’re still able to safely tend to their telephone ministry.
Sister Charlene Toups, abbess of the community of Poor Clares in New Orleans, told Catholic News Service that the sisters preserve a spirit of prayer and devotion. She also shared guidelines she learned as a young sister on how to make talk pleasing to God.
“Before speaking, ask yourself three questions: Is it necessary? Is it helpful? Is it upbuilding?”
“If you stop and think about that, you’ll keep your mouth shut a lot of the time,” Sister Charlene said with a chuckle.
Her advice seems so simple, but powerful nonetheless. If all of us paused to consider her three questions before we speak – and even go so far as to consider the questions before we think – then maybe we would be kinder to others and ourselves. Plus, if what Sister Charlene said is true, don’t we want our talk and thoughts to be pleasing to God?
Now that I have two nieces and a nephew, with a third niece on the way, I’ve realized just how vital it is to be more careful with my words and how I voice my opinion about myself. I can orget just how closely little ears pay attention, and kiddos soak up stuff like sponges.
I want my nieces and nephew to always be kind to themselves and practice self-love.
If we wouldn’t dream of tearing down our friends and family, why do we think it’s acceptable to do it to ourselves? Don’t we also love ourselves?
So, celebrate all of your victories, just like you do for your friends and family, especially the little victories and those accomplished during this strange time of quarantine.
What if, instead of wasting precious time on putting ourselves down and wallowing in negative thoughts, we are proud of where we’re at in our journey and focus on filling our mind with positivity? Let’s focus on a grateful heart and appreciate ourselves and our lives for everything it is.
Let’s practice positive self-care; after all, it costs nothing to be kind to others or yourself.