Be kind to yourself

My new doctor gave me some advice not long ago. Well, going on two months, I guess.

But it hasn’t been far from my mind ever since, and I've been sharing it pretty widely.

Everything's OK; this was just an annual physical. But at the end of our fairly brief session, she rattled off the kinds of things I anticipated: 

  • "Watch your weight."

  • "Take your vitamins."

  • "Wear sunscreen."

Then, the kicker: "Don't forget to be kind to yourself."

Her phrasing really caught me short. I didn't expect it. I almost started laughing, in fact. When was the last time anyone told you to remember to be kind to yourself?

(Come to think of it, I guess I told you to, briefly, in the August 12 newsletter. I’d been to the doctor the day before, and this was already on my mind.)

Anyway, we talked about it a bit. She said she gives this advice to almost everyone, especially now. It's the one thing most of us are forgetting to do.

Look, it's amazing how quickly the “new abnormal,” as some people call it, has become fairly normal. Global pandemic? Old news. Economic collapse? We're months into it. 

Incredibly contentious political season in which some people are being paid millions to increase everyone's existential angst? 

Welcome to 2020.

Some of us are doing very well. Others, barely holding on. Lots more, in the middle.

I've heard from so many readers lately, having good days and bad—beating themselves up over their economic prospects, or how they've fallen off the fitness train, or how they've been shorter with their kids than they want to be.

Being kind to yourself is about making allowances and accepting yourself, while still pushing yourself toward the things you value and want to achieve.

It's also about love—tough love, even. Encouragement, truth, aspirations.

Holding yourself to goals, but also giving yourself room to breathe—to admit that you're only human, and you're part of a human race that's facing unprecedented times.

I think it's almost like an opposite application of the Golden Rule. 

That’s about doing for others as you'd want them to do for you. This advice is about being willing to do for yourself what you'd like to think you'd do for others—when they need it.

Now, perhaps you don’t need anyone else to remind you to treat yourself with kindness. I'm happy for you, truly.

But I'll bet you’ll run into some other people who need to hear it. And now you’ll have some good, helpful words to share with them:

“Don’t forget to be kind to yourself.”

And while I’m at it, have a great weekend.

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