Kindness is the greatest gift we can give to this world.
Showing compassion and knowing how to put other people first are fundamental signs of decency.
But sadly, sometimes lines can get blurred.
Without protective boundaries in place, kindness can spill over into something else.
When we strive to be too nice to others (always at our own expense), it becomes a weakness rather than a strength.
Here are some warning signs you’re being kind to everyone but yourself.
1) You’d never say it, but secretly you sometimes feel resentful about all you do for others
Resentment arises when the balance of giving and receiving becomes distorted.
We can (and should) only give so much of our time, effort, and energy to others.
That’s not selfish, it’s practical.
Because if we’re not filling our cup and nobody else is either, we will quickly find ourselves running on empty.
Even though you may try to push them aside or keep them to yourself, your frustrations are significant.
The truth is if we cannot give something freely without resentment, it’s not a true gift.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say you don’t have good intentions.
But that disgruntled voice in the back of your mind is trying to remind you “Hey, don’t forget about MY needs too”.
2) Everyone else’s needs and wants come above your own
You spend your time running around after the people in your life.
You rarely or never ask for things and always put yourself last.
This can be in big ways or small.
Everything from doing the lion’s share of the emotional labor in a relationship to always eating at the restaurant everyone else wants to.
But it all paints a picture:
You are at the bottom of your to-do list.
The reality is that your own needs aren’t a priority in your life.
3) You don’t use the same loving language towards yourself that you do with other people
So many of us are guilty of this one.
Your friend comes to you. She is feeling down about her progress in life.
She worries she should be doing better in her career. She fears she should have met someone and settled down by now.
“What’s wrong with me?!” she despairs.
What do you say to her?
You probably seek to reassure with kindness and support, right?
You remind her what an incredible person she is. Just how many unique skills and talents she has to share with the world. How loved she is by so many people.
But when you are feeling down on yourself, these comforting words are nowhere to be found.
Instead, a self-deprecating negative voice tells you things that we would quickly label as a toxic relationship if they came from anyone else.
When the abuse comes from within, it can be hard to spot. We’re often just so used to it.
But the fact remains:
You deserve to show yourself the same kindness you would your closest friend.
Because you should be your best friend in life. If you’re not, it’s time to invest in some serious self-love.
4) You effortlessly accept other people’s flaws but expect perfection from yourself
When anyone else messes up in some way, you’re incredibly forgiving.
It’s easy for you to realize that they’re only human, mistakes happen and they’re just doing the best they can.
But if only you could cut yourself that same slack.
Because when it comes to expectations of yourself, they are sky-high.
You take a perfectionist approach where nothing you do ever feels good enough.
You hone in on every little perceived flaw. You get fixated on your imperfections. You are frustrated by your limitations.
It’s another example of how you are depriving yourself of the love and understanding you are able to effortlessly bestow on others.
5) Saying yes to everyone is leaving you exhausted
As an introvert, I say no to people probably more than most.
Learning to do so wasn’t easy.
I felt guilty for turning people down. I worried others might think I was being selfish or anti-social.
But I also had to protect my own energy.
So despite my discomfort, it became a matter of what’s more important, my own needs or someone else’s wants.
There are only so many favors we can do. There are only so many “extra miles” that we can go for people.
Regardless of how much energy you feel like you can give to others, it always has a limit.
If you are feeling worn out, drained, and under pressure, you have gone past yours.
6) You let people get away with things because it feels too awkward to stand up for yourself
I feel you.
I also hate conflict so I can be a little avoidant around it.
It’s not a big deal to occasionally let things slide. In fact, it can be a sign of greater patience and tolerance.
But whether we like it or not, sometimes we have to stand up for ourselves. Otherwise, people can walk all over you.
It would be great if we lived in a world where respect was automatically given, but we’re not there yet.
At the end of the day, it comes down to boundaries.
They are the, often invisible, lines we draw in the sand around how others can treat us and the behavior we won’t tolerate.
When it comes at your expense, crossed boundaries are you letting your own wellbeing suffer for someone else’s sake.
7) You pride yourself on being the peacekeeper
Let’s be clear:
Diplomacy and tact are useful skills that add not only to our likeability but also our success in life.
But that is not the same thing as stifling your own voice.
We are all entitled to our opinions, thoughts, and beliefs. Particularly when we’re around those we trust and love, we should be able to share them.
Sure, you don’t have to be the arrogant type who pushes yours on everyone else when there is no need.
There is some wisdom in knowing when to keep schtum.
But like with everything, there is a balance to be struck.
You do have a right to say when something seems wrong to you.
You shouldn’t go along with others when you don’t agree, just to be liked.
This falls under the category of people pleaser rather than peacekeeper.
Whilst it can seem harmless, every time you deny your own values, so as not to rock the boat, it’s a subtle betrayal of who you are and what you stand for.
8) You hate it when someone doesn’t like you
I’m still working on this one.
Because I can find myself stewing over other people’s judgment of me, no matter how hard I try to let it go.
To a certain extent, it’s hardwired into us to care what people think.
Once upon a time exclusion from the social groups we live in could have been a genuine threat to our life.
These days, it just means we’ll be ghosted or not invited to Tiffany’s party.
But, hey, it still stings just as much.
So much so that research even shows that we feel rejection and exclusion much like real physical pain.
But this aversion to being seen unfavorably can go too far.
When you are too bothered by what others think of you it can mean:
- You are seeking too much validation externally
- Any slight criticism or feedback really knocks your self-esteem
- You desperately want to always be a “good girl” or “good guy”
But whenever you place the following things at the top of your priority list…
- Make sure everyone always likes me
- Avoid hurting everyone else’s feelings
…it’s really hard to show up as your authentic self.
It’s time to show yourself some of that kindness
1. Remember that you matter
It’s such an obvious point. We shouldn’t need reminding, but we so often do.
Your goals, desires, preferences, ideas, beliefs, thoughts and feelings matter.
If you don’t feel convinced of this yet, you have to do the inner work to boost your self-esteem and self-belief.
Call out your inner critic, and consciously replace negative self-chat with positive talk.
In order to show yourself kindness you have to deep down believe you are worthy of it.
2. Carve out time for self-care
If your needs and wants are getting squeezed, create time for yourself.
Literally, schedule “me-time” into your week if you have to.
Don’t allow yourself to be an afterthought. Make self-care a habit that you build in.
3. Practice sticking up for yourself
The important part here is the practice.
Because it takes time and repetition to feel more comfortable with disagreeing or saying “no”.
You can start small.
It may be saying “Actually, I’d prefer not to eat there. Can we go somewhere else?”
The reality is that you may never relish enforcing boundaries. But it can get slightly easier and less awkward the more you do it.
Whenever you waver, you’ve got to fall back on solid foundations of self-respect to help you see it through.