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Being Kinder to Yourself

© 2013 Brenda Dineen | Reprinting permission with credit to author

As I grow older, I am learning to be kinder to myself.  This is a process that has come upon me through my own life experience.  Like everyone else, I notice all the various messages I am getting about the aging process:  graceful aging, healthy aging, even ‘anti-aging’.  As I experience some of the ups and downs of the aging process, I notice I need to find ways to be gentle with myself and not feel like I need to compare myself to others or to judge how I am going through the aging journey.

Do you sometimes get down on yourself as you notice signs of aging? Do you resist or perhaps deny the aging process? Do you feel badly because you can’t remember someone’s name, or why you walked upstairs into a room? Perhaps you find yourself comparing to others.

How do you take care of yourself and what words do you say when you talk to yourself? These are important questions to think about. It is your attitudes, habits and self-talk that are creating the quality of life you are living.

I am learning to practise being kinder to myself. I find it is so helpful to have a gentle attitude toward myself. I take note of the changes in my body and my health. And then I say, ”It’s alright. Everything is going to be okay.”

Now in my 60s, I notice I am definitely slower to heal from injuries (especially my knee) and less able to do endurance or impact activities. Although I do not have the resilience and stamina I had at age 40, I take stock of what I do have: very good health.  I exercise regularly and watch what I eat. I have supportive people in my life. I especially try to monitor my thoughts.

It’s helpful to watch how you talk about aging.  I read reports that “It’s all downhill from here.” However, that’s not true.  As Baby Boomers we know that as we take care of our health, are physically active and keep our brains alert and sharp, we can enjoy good health as we move into our senior years.

A few months ago I was on a group hike near Squamish. We hiked the perimeter of Brohm Lake and then took a trail up the side of a mountain.  I found myself huffing, puffing and sweating as we scaled a steep hillside to a higher elevation. Up and up we climbed over stones, dirt trails and rocks. “I feel like I’m climbing Mount Everest!”, I called out to the group ahead of me.  Even though I did not hike at the same pace as the younger people in the group, it was a wonderful accomplishment to get to the top and stand together looking out over a valley to the stunning Tantalus mountain range beyond. I did it! I felt grateful for that day, as I drove back into the city.

We are so often hard on ourselves and neglect the simple practice of being kind. Kindness holds a high vibrational energy, and the ripples are felt both within and beyond you.

Life gives us opportunities to practise being kind and more forgiving with ourselves. Recently I was at my gym and noticed there were some new, very flashy elliptical trainers. ‘Oh,’ I thought. ‘I’ll try one of those one.’ It felt great to cycle and even to increase the level of intensity on the machine. However, later that day, my knee hurt. It was telling me: ’Too much. Don’t do that.’  I have had ongoing challenges listening to my knee. I find I am flooded with memories of what I used to be able to do 10 or 15 years ago and I now need to listen carefully and honour the messages from my body. When it says ‘No’, I need to rest a while.  I take a break, and adjust my expectations.

As our physical bodies go through changes, we can become much more aware of our true essence which we hold within us. As you practise being kind to yourself you may be more aware of your wonderful inner qualities and strengths. These do not need to diminish as you age. In fact, they can and do flourish.

Ways to practice being kinder to yourself:

  • speak lovingly to your body and thank it for serving you all these years
  • be conscious of what messages you pay attention to from the media and from other people
  • let go of being so critical of yourself
  • adjust your expectations when your body says ‘No’
  • give thanks for all that you do have

As you practise being kind to yourself, you are strengthening the foundation for all aspects of your health and your life.

Warm wishes,

Brenda