“Be Kind to One Another”

That’s what Ellen Degeneres says at the end of her talk show. She also says “Be cool. Be kind. Don’t judge.” I couldn’t agree with her more. But it’s about more than that. It’s about more than just being kind to each other, it’s about being kind to ourselves.

The first thing that goes when you’re dealing with depression is your ability to see the good in yourself. You’ll make a small mistake, but your mind will take that and warp it into something huge as proof that you’re entirely incompetent. You then spend the next million thoughts criticizing and scolding yourself for what you’ve done wrong.

I remember once a therapist asked me to say all the bad things I tell myself every day. It consisted of something like “How could you be so stupid? You’re literally the most useless person ever and you screw everything up.” Somehow I thought it was okay for me to tell myself these things. Then, she asked me to think of a little kid I cared about in my life. Someone young, innocent, and someone I cared deeply about. She made me visualize this person and then asked me to yell all the things that I tell myself at the imaginary person. I couldn’t do it. When she asked me why, I said it was mean and would hurt the kid’s feelings. I was taught if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Why didn’t this logic apply to myself? Why was it okay to say horrible things to myself when I would never dream of being so cruel to another person?

It’s not okay. It’s not okay to be mean to yourself. We need to learn that criticism can be helpful in certain contexts, and the ability to provide yourself with constructive feedback is undoubtedly necessary, but we also need to be our own biggest cheerleader. You need to be the person in your corner cheering you on, encouraging you, and telling you you’re doing just fine. Sometimes I get really negative thoughts about myself, and then proceed to get mad at myself for thinking such things. You can see how that is completely counter productive.

So today I have a challenge for you. Be kind. Find five people you care about, and give them a compliment. It’s not hard to find the good in other people. Here’s the real challenge though: for every compliment you give someone else, give yourself one too. You’re fantastic, you just need to tell yourself that too. Be kind to one another and be kind to yourself more.

Keep Surviving by Living.


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