a man in a formal outfit making a heart with his hands

The types of New Year’s resolutions we often make involve doing more, being better, and becoming stricter with ourselves. I often think, however, that the most important resolution we can commit to is practicing compassion with ourselves. When I refer to self-compassion, I don’t mean letting ourselves become overly lazy or indulgent or shirking our responsibilities. Instead, I think of all the subtle and not so subtle ways we can be unkind and unsupportive to ourselves in moments when we could really use a dose of gentleness and ease instead.

It’s an interesting practice to consider how we can best support ourselves as we go through our daily lives: how might we tackle our activities and tasks in a way that matches the ebb and flow of our energy level, how can we be kind with ourselves when we’re feeling stretched, and how can we tell when we have it in us to take a risk and when we need to be gentle with ourselves? For some of us, it makes sense to apply the golden rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) in reverse, offering ourselves the same respect and kindness that we extend to those we’re taking care of. In this way, we can remind ourselves to include self-care and self-kindness in our daily life.

Karen Horneffer-Ginter has been practicing psychology and teaching yoga and contemplative practices for over 16 years. She has also taught graduate students and health care professionals, along with directing a university-based holistic health care program, and co-founding the Center for Psychotherapy and Wellness in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The aim of Karen's work is to reconnect people with the wisdom of their inner-life by reclaiming what gets lost amidst the busyness of day-to-day life: qualities such as stillness, self-care, creativity, joy, humor, gratitude, and compassion. Her intention is to support people in finding a sense of balance and sacredness in their lives.

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  1. Hell no. I treat others better. From my experience, most caregivers do the same.

  2. Unfortunately, I don’t treat myself at all. I was thaught to take care of everything and everyone around me ever since I was a little girl.

  3. Golden Rule in reverse is an interesting idea. I like it!

  4. No, I wish I did & am trying to do better.

  5. I had a thought over the last few days in that I need to love myself the way I try to love others. How can I love others effectively if I am hard on myself? If I am hard on myself I will subconsciously be that way with others, especially those closest to me. Jesus tells us to, “Love our neighbor has ourselves.” But if we are not loving ourselves (accepting ourselves as we are, human with faults) we will not love others rightly.

    So I am going to do my best to be kind to myself. I am not going to feel guilty when I have to take a break from caregiving. I’d give others a break. Why not myself?


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