21 Ways to Cultivate Kindness (For Yourself)

September 18, 2019

Sonya Matejko is the Senior Manager of Communications at Situation – a digital agency that helps brands build passionate communities through digital-first marketing strategies. She focuses on reputation management by elevating the agency through curated events, awards, speaking opportunities, thought leadership, internal communications, press, and more.

Before Situation, Sonya spent over four years at SapientRazorfish on the Creative Excellence team leading the awards process for offices in North America, South America, and Asia-Pacific.

In her spare time, you’ll find Sonya writing in coffee shops, teaching yoga, nurturing a community on Instagram, traveling the world or exploring her own backyard in NYC.

Every day, we have a host of opportunities to be kind to one another. We can pay it forward, we can gift a genuine compliment, or we can lend out a hand to someone who needs it. Each day, we are given chances to make an impact on someone and create a ripple effect of kindness.

Still, there’s often one person we neglect in the options to be kind. There’s one particular human being who we tend to skip over or forget about. That person is ourselves.

It feels good to be kind to someone for the sake of being kind, and it is also okay to admit that it feels good to be kind to ourselves (we just happen to make that choice a little less). Focusing on ourselves has a negative connotation of being selfish or being self-absorbed. If we’re focusing inward too much, then that must mean we’re missing what’s happening outside of ourselves. I’d like to think that the opposite is true.

The better we take care of ourselves, the better we can take care of those around us. The more kindness we feel within our hearts, the more kindness we then have to share. It is not egotistical to practice self-love and self-care–that’s precisely what the ego wants you to think. When you’re mindful about your own wellbeing, you will naturally have more energy to give back (or just give in general).

We must reframe this idea of giving back. We cannot give from an empty cup. We need to fill up with goodness ourselves, so we can all collectively elevate the goodness in our worlds (because everything comes down to intention). If we forget about ourselves, then we will spend our lives living for someone else’s needs without ever understanding our own. If we forget about ourselves, we’ll never really know the potential of our impact.

Of course, there’s a balance to everything. No, we should not spend 21 years trying to find the optimal level of happiness before rendering kindness. But yes, we should at least know whether we’ve taken ourselves for granted a little too long.

In honor of Born This Way Foundation’s “21 Day to be Kind” Challenge, here are 21 ways to be kind to yourself:

1. Raise your hand when you need help
2. Turn to your breath in times of overwhelm
3. Regulate and elevate your sleep hygiene
4. Take time to self-reflect and/or journal
5. Be mindful of the food you invite into your body
6. Write a list of things you’re grateful for
7. Practice using positive affirmations
8. Take more walks to clear your head
9. Do something that brings you joy
10. Take one step closer to your goals
11. Learn to set loving boundaries
12. Forgive yourself for things in the past
13. Exercise letting go of things you don’t need
14. Detox away from technology
15. Write a letter to your past self
16. Take yourself somewhere you’ve never been
17. Drink more water
18. Pick up some new, healthy habits
19. Start a meditation practice
20. Smile at yourself in the mirror
21. Permit yourself to care about yourself more

Imagine a world where we were all kind to ourselves. The only option would be to be kind to everyone else, too.