When I first glanced at this picture I loved it. 

then I zoomed in. 

"Ugh!" I thought to myself. "Why the fat rolls!?!" 

 
 

This type of thought used to completely spin-tail me into FIX ME MODE. 

  • Okay, tomorrow it starts again - No! Sugar!
  • I'll go to the gym tonight, tomorrow morning, AND tomorrow night. 
  • Where do I sign up for the next 100 crunches a day challenge? 

This time though (after cycling through a feeeew more mean girl thoughts), I changed my tune. 

Instead of rushing to FIX, I thought,

"Woah sister, hold up a sec. What's the truth about this moment?"

1. I have skin.

It folds when I sit. Especially when I'm not "holding it in" (And thank goodness for NOT holding it in, amiright!?). 

2. I have fat.

It helps insulate me, it protects my organs, it keeps my period regular.

3. I felt bloated on this day.

Common when traveling. (Wrote about that here, so... yeah... that). 

4. I'm #bodypositive, promote Body Kindness, would 100% say I LOVE my body, and I teach people how to drop the guilt/shame game around exercise...

AND I still have negative thoughts about my body sometimes. 

That's okay. 

Those negative thoughts no longer rule my universe.

 

I Grabbed my journal and scribbled:

What is self-kindness anyway? 

For me, it's LESS about an uninspired "I love myself" in the mirror. 

It's about being CURIOUS - especially in the face of un-kindness, disappointment, discouragement, discomfort, self-nagging, self flagellation.

1. Something happens + you place judgement on yourself. 

2. Your brain says "Doh!"

3. You punish yourself in order to learn how to NOT do that again OR to confirm that you suck OR you rush for a quick fix.

And the cycle continues.

What if instead we got curious:

  • Hmm, what's happening there?
  • What's triggering these thoughts? 
  • How can I nourish myself right now?
  • What do I want?

Forgive yourself. 

Tell yourself that you're okay. 

Release the judgement. 

Talk to yourself with gentleness. 

Take an inspired, compassionate action.*

 

*Self-kindness isn't an excuse to keep yourself in an unhealthy state. Taking inspired, compassionate action towards something that will help your health might be the KINDEST thing you can do for yourself. Self love and wanting to change aren't mutually exclusive.

 

When we show kindness to strangers and friends and family and lovers, we're calling upon skills like: 

  • LISTENING
  • EMPATHY
  • COMPASSION
  • AFFECTION
  • GENEROSITY
  • CONNECTION

Are those things we can show ourselves?

 
 

 

Then I got even more curious and wondered what YOU thought about self-kindness.

I asked, and you brilliantly said...

 

In a way I think about it from a mindfulness perspective. I can not control my thoughts but I can control my reaction to them and I try to make it a point to choose the most generous approach to myself.
— Eric R.
Being in my body and accepting where I am emotionally, physically, spiritually.
— Lydia M.
Ignoring all of my self-unkind thoughts.
— Allegra KS
Sipping tea, meditating, positive self-talk (“I am a warrior goddess”) coloring, avoiding chemicals, yoga, and..... Netflix
— Amy B.
I would say NOT ignoring unkind thoughts. I notice them then become tender and gentle and kind toward that part of me that was feeling xyz feeling or core belief that produced the unkind thought. Turning again and again toward the feelings and thoughts that hurt and giving it/them tenderness and lovingkindness. Also, throughout the day doing breath in for me, breath out for you. Also, getting enough rest, nutritious food and moving my body regularly. Meditating every day. Hand on heart.
— Vanessa P.
When I started focusing on eating healthy (I had switched to a vegan diet 5 yrs ago) all my concerns about body image vanished. Now, I just love myself as I am, however I am, and cheer myself on for doing the best I can, whatever it is. Also...It’s so much easier to have compassion for someone outside of yourself. But, then I remind myself, what makes me different from others? (Nothing.) So, if others are kind and compassionate toward me, why can’t I have that toward myself? We really are all one, so let’s love all as one (including ourselves). ❤
— Amie A.
Self-forgiveness.
— Sara AK
Improving my involvement in the world. What we feel is, so often, what we exude.
— Diane S.
Giving yourself a big giant break on all the little things you criticize yourself for all day. I guess that’s the whole “don’t sweat the small stuff” thang. That!
— Deb H.
Staying in bed when my body needs the rest. And not beating myself for doing it. Which is ultimately about taking advantage of the flexibility I’ve designed into my life.
— Karen W.
Putting kind, value-neutral attention on my body and my internal state
— Marissa W.
Living inside my body.
— Duba
Allowing yourself to have negative emotions, do things you feel you shouldn’t, but always forgive yourself. Realizing that if you’re not on your own side, you’re missing the whole point of life, which is to enjoy it, and be kind to everything around you. When I have a disagreement with someone I realize that the problem is my need to be right. Slay the ego, and self-kindness comes naturally, because you can be in the wrong or in the right and it doesn’t matter.
— Rich L.
 
 

 

What do you think? 

What does self-kindness mean to you? 

Leave a comment - I'd love to hear your experience and your perspective! 

 

With love and body kindness, 

xoxo elyse


HIYA, I'M ELYSE! 

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day + Sparkes Wellness Library program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


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