Growing a Secret Garden of Kindness

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Do you bloom with good works and forgiveness for others?  How about yourself?  What does your inner garden look like?  Is it bursting with boundless energy and love?  Or is it weedy and neglected?  Some of the most anxious and unhappy people that I help are those who are kind to others but who don’t turn that kindness inward.  The crazy thing is that when you don’t treat yourself well, you burn out more easily.

In a way, it sounds selfish to cultivate self-compassion.  But growing a garden of kindness for yourself helps you flourish with energy and nourishment that you can share with others for extended periods of time.  In fact, punishing yourself for past mistakes, pushing yourself beyond healthy limits, negative self-talk, and deprivation are seeds for illness and future disaster.

What are some conditions that will help you to develop a healthy garden of kindness?

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Accepting yourself just as you are, flaws and all
Realizing that you are deserving of love and forgiveness
Calling on a higher power if you need help to forgive yourself

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Taking care of your physical needs for sleep, movement and nutrition

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Setting some time aside each day for quiet and reflection

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Taking time to play – to be with others who make you smile or laugh

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Developing and nurturing relationships that are mutually supportive, either personal or in a group
Limiting  or avoiding alcohol and drugs which may offer temporary relief but also contribute to depression and burnout
Consider the help of a therapist or a coach to support you as you grow your garden, especially if it is currently choked with weeds.

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Growing a secret garden of  kindness is a life skill that will bring you a sense of peace and joy that lasts despite difficult times.  Don’t hesitate – your life is precious, and each day is a new opportunity to make it a healthy and meaningful experience.

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