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By Matt Hearnden
“They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first, and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.” – Brené Brown.
Are you kind to others?
Are you kind to yourself?
Do you believe that other people deserve your kindness?
Do you believe that you deserve your kindness?
One of the reasons I started writing is because I knew I wasn’t perfect.
I’d made so many mistakes, failed so many times, sabotaged myself so often.
I’d also read about all these successful people who never seemed to have many any mistakes, or ever failed, or even thought about sabotaging themselves.
It discouraged me. It made me frustrated and angry and upset. It made me cry.
Because what the hell? All I’d ever wanted was to be successful, but if I was making mistakes and failing and sabotaging myself, how would I ever get there?
These were supermen and superwomen and I wasn’t.
Once I’d been studying personal development for years, when I was finally a licensed life coach, do you know what I thought?
I thought I had to be perfect.
I, as a life coach, as someone who wanted to help everybody else with their “stuff,” had to be the ultimate example.
I couldn’t be scared of anything. I wasn’t allowed to show any weakness. I had to be impenetrable.
I wouldn’t dare to be honest. Not really. Not truly.
Because what if someone found out I was a fraud? That I was just like them? Why would they ever want someone like them to help them?
Of course, I wasn’t perfect. And I was unkind to myself for it.
I’d get angry with myself. Say things like “what is wrong with you?” Worry about why I couldn’t just be perfect.
I never even thought about being kind to myself.
I didn’t think I was allowed to be imperfect. I didn’t think I deserved to be imperfect.
It was ok for other people to not be imperfect though. Of course it was! Who would ever expect someone to be even close to perfect!
It was ok for other people to be imperfect because they were still good enough.
They were good enough despite being imperfect AND because they were imperfect.
And, because of that, I never doubted that someone else could do whatever they wanted to do.
Professional athlete? Sure. CEO? Yep. Entrepreneur? Of course.
But I doubted myself. I was kind to them but not to myself.
So I disagree and agree with Brené Brown.
I disagree because I wasn’t being kind to myself but I was being kind to others.
I agree because she’s right.
Ultimately, it caught up with me. It wore me out because I was helping these people but I wasn’t helping myself. I was being kind to these people because they deserved it. I wasn’t being kind to myself because I didn’t think I deserved it.
Giving other people what I didn’t think I deserved ended up being painful and trying to be the perfect role model for them was a massive lie.
I refused to be honest with myself so there was no way I was about to not lie to them.
Honest that I hated my day job, honest that I wasn’t happy, honest that I was galaxies from perfect.
I couldn’t be honest. I had to be perfect.
And that made me unhappy. It made me curl up into the foetal position and wonder how I’d ever get what I wanted so much.
But then I started think that I couldn’t live like this any more. I couldn’t keep pretending I was perfect. I couldn’t keep lying to the one person I’d spent every single millisecond of my entire life with. It was too much to handle. Something had to change. Something meaning “I.”
I think that’s why I started writing.
Because I started reading lots of articles about life lessons, and how to be an entrepreneur, and other generic things, and I was annoyed.
There was no honesty! Again! Anywhere!
There were just these perfect people and I couldn’t take it.
So, for myself more than for anyone else, which was new, I wrote.
I felt relieved. Finally, some of the secrets were leaking out. Nothing got me in the moment like writing.
I thought I was being honest until I read James Altucher’s blog.
I was shocked. The honest was almost alarming. But I loved it and I read every post.
After reading them all I thought “finally, someone’s being honest.”
I also thought “this is how to write.”
I started writing more honestly that I’d ever written because there are different levels of honesty.
There’s honesty and then there’s wholehearted honesty.
It felt so good to be honest. That’s what was on the other side of being scared to be honest: feeling good. Relief. Being proud of myself.
And people started reaching out to tell me how much I’d helped them. How grateful they were that someone else was like them. How happy they were that they weren’t alone.
Some people even told me that I’d saved them.
That’s not true. They saved themselves. But I’m glad I was able to help.
It was that I was honest, that I was happy to be imperfect, that I was proud of who I really was, these things were why people wanted to speak to me.
Not because I was perfect but because I wasn’t even close to perfect.
Not everybody likes honesty though.
For example, here’s a comment I received a while ago:
“you are such a bad person…how do you tolerate yourself… I don’t hate you or anything… I have no right… but by god you must not like yourself either.”
When I was convinced I had to be perfect I think this comment would’ve affected me. I would’ve pretended that it didn’t, obviously. But I think I would’ve thought “maybe they’re right.”
But when I received it? I laughed.
I laughed because I know I’m not a bad person.
I laughed because I do much more than merely tolerate myself.
I laughed because, actually, I do like myself.
Despite my imperfections.
Because of my imperfections.
Because I started being who I was instead of who I thought I should be.
That’s real kindness.