Jehovah’s Witnesses taught us that “being kind to yourself” was wrong. They taught that it was a worldly concept. They teach that good people “pummel” their bodies and that they should treat themselves like “a slave”. They say that our hearts are treacherous and that we should not listen to our metaphorical heart.
It’s not surprising that a lot of former Jehovah’s Witnesses struggle to be kind to themselves, myself included. How does one be kind to oneself? What does that look like?
As witnesses, we had extremely high standards and not living up to them was a sin. Jehovah’s Witnesses expected perfection OR ELSE! Other people were allowed to make mistakes but YOU were not.
We need to tell ourselves if other people have the right to make mistakes and other people have the right to not be perfect then so do I. I tell myself when I don’t live up to my rigorous standards that I’m allowed to not be perfect just like everyone else. If I’ve made a mistake, I remind myself it’s not the first mistake I’ve made and it certainly won’t be the last.
Similarly, we often tell ourselves that we don’t deserve things. We might feel guilty for doing things for our own benefit because we were taught to do things for the benefit of others. We were taught that other people’s feelings mattered but our feelings did not. Because of this many former members feel guilt and shame about doing good things for themselves.
I struggle with all of these things. I’m learning but these things take time. Learning about Secular Buddhism, meditation and yoga have helped me to explore non-judgment and awareness. I once had a lot of reservations about these things but I highly suggest looking into these. I will be posting more about all three of these but in the meantime, if you have questions, feel free to reach out and I will answer the best I can.
When I’m getting stressed and judgmental I like to do certain things to help be kind to myself. These include yoga, especially a slow relaxed yoga before bed and other meditation-like practices. I also enjoy hot baths with eucalyptus and mint Epsom salts. Sometimes I use “bath bombs”. Light a scented candle and sitting in the dark. I will do long walks. I try to eat healthily, and by healthy I mean eliminating refined carbs. Getting a bath sponge and thoroughly scrubbing my body with a pleasant soap. I try to avoid coffee and caffeine. Sometimes I will I will dedicate some time and cook myself a warm meal that I would not normally prepare.
Another thing that has helped me to be kind to myself is to be kinder to others. I try to be kinder in what I say to other. I try to be kinder in my mental dialog about others. I can then use that practice being kind on myself.
What are some ways that you show kindness to yourself? Let me know in the comments below.