Lara Heacock is on a mission to spread kindness.
How would your life change if you started being more kind to yourself?
Do you think you’d find yourself acting more kindly to others?
How can we create an “epidemic of kindness” in our world?
These are all questions we explore in this week’s YBTV interview.
Lara is the founder of the inspirational website Kind Over Matter and author of Practical Kindness: 52 Ways to Bring More Compassion, Courage & Kindness into Your World.
She wants to give you permission to be kind to yourself as well as others. The better you take care of yourself, the better able you are to serve those you love. Kindness really does start with you.
What You’ll Learn
Lara used to be the epitome of the woman who does it ALL.
She had a high-stress job where she was closing deals on her honeymoon. She was training as a life coach, she’d started a blog, she was trying to find time to spend time with her husband, and she’d just taken on a “Daily Act of Kindness” project where she committed to doing one kind thing for someone else every day for a year.
It was too much.
About three months into her kindness project, she hit a wall. “I was like, ‘I am so exhausted I literally can’t think of a kind thing to do for someone else.'”
“I just hit the absolute tipping point of too much on my plate, striving to be perfect, doing #AllTheThings, and I just couldn’t do anything anymore,” she says. “I had to start being kind to myself.”
So she did the only thing she could think to do:
She got a manicure.
Be Kind to Yourself, Not Just Others
There, in the nail salon, she had the inspiration that led her to a brand-new path as a self-kindness coach.
Summed up in less than 10 words, her realization was this:
Life gets better when you’re kind to yourself.”
She started Self Kindness Saturdays, where the object of your kindness is not someone else but YOU.
“I was terrified,” she explains. “I had this whole story … saying, ‘What are they going to think of you? You’re supposed to be doing a kind act for someone else! Who are you to take time for yourself?'”
Although we’re taught to be kind to others, few of us learn what it means (or even feels like) to be kind to ourselves.
Self-care is absent from the messages of most great religions. We’re trained in the Golden Rule, we’re told to love thy neighbor, “but there’s no context for how to take care of ourselves. It’s not taught in schools. It’s not taught in churches. It’s not a part of any traditional societal, commercial, religious upbringing.”
Instead, we learn to hustle. We learn to go-go-go. We learn to value recognition and achievement.
“I was never taught to just be proud of myself and feel valued for just being a human on this planet,” Lara remarks.
In fact, we learn to fear taking downtime. If we take time to relax, if we take a break, we might come back to find a competitor in our place. We’ll fall behind.
Even worse, if we allow ourselves too much rest, we might get to LIKE it. We might lose our drive.
“That is the #1 fear of every high achieving client that I work with,” Lara says. “Every leader, every driven type A, every overachiever.”
You Can Be Kind to Yourself and Successful, Too
There’s a balance.
It’s not true that EITHER you’re hustling OR you’re lazy.
“There’s this beautiful rich territory in between burnout … and ending up on the street and your children never getting to school again,” Lara explains.
Taking time for yourself—even if it means time away from work—makes you better at what you do.
“When we do take time to nurture ourselves and to take care of ourselves and to develop our own self-kindness practices,” Lara says, “we can actually become more successful. Because when you’re burned out, you never do your best work.”
How to Start Your Own Self-Kindness Practice
Although Lara’s message of self-kindness started out as traditional self-care, with things like manicures and bubble baths, it has evolved to embrace self-empowerment.
Her brand of self-kindness now “include[s] things like setting good boundaries, asking for what I need, asking for help, using my voice, [and] having difficult conversations.”
It also involves reconsidering how often you say yes to things you don’t really want to do. You want to make sure it’s not an “obligation that’s going to turn into resentment.”
Another part involves looking after your basic needs, like getting enough sleep, eating regular meals, and drinking enough water.
Although you may feel too intimidated to bring any of those self-care practices to the workplace, that’s exactly where it’s needed the most. When you take time to eat, for example, you show your co-workers it’s okay for them to take time for their needs, too.
“When we get to that stressed-out, burned-out, overworked place, we also tend to become micro-managers,” Lara says. “We tend to think that we have to do EVERYTHING and we can’t trust those amazing people that we hired because we’re perfect and, ‘Look at me, working 23-1/2 hours a day!’”
Spread the Message of Kindness
You can spread the message of kindness by becoming a kindness hero.
“A kindness hero is living as an example of what you believe,” Lara explains. Do the right thing because you want to BE that type of person.
“I’m not doing it for accolades. I’m not doing it for pats on the back,” she says. “I’m doing it because that’s what makes me feel good about ME when I go to bed at night.”
You can also model self-kindness for your children.
“No matter what lessons [parents] try and ‘teach’ their children, what their children learn is what they SEE,” Lara says.
“So when their kids see Mom burning out or running herself ragged, they’re going to learn and internalize that that’s what they have to do, either for love or for belonging or for recognition.
“But if they see Mom being successful AND enjoying her life … and really able to be present with the family, the kids are going to internalize that lesson, too.”
Lastly, spread kindness by doing the little things that show you care.
“Every day, you impact people you don’t even know.” Lara says. “You might smile at a stranger in a grocery store, and that may be their only human, kind contact all day.”
For more tips and ideas on how to practice kindness, check out Lara’s book, Practical Kindness: 52 Ways to Bring More Compassion, Courage & Kindness into Your World. It includes weekly, bite-sized doses of kindness that will get you started on your own kindness practice.
Don’t think any of this will make a difference, given the state of the world today?
Lara asks that you take a leap of faith.
The little things that we do touch people more than we know.”
Jump to Topics of Interest
2:20 The moment that changed Lara’s life
3:04 How Lara came up with Self Kind Saturday
4:19 What is self-kindness?
5:10 Learning to say no
6:03 Why it’s easier to “love your neighbor” than yourself
7:23 The inner critic
8:35 Giving up the hustle won’t leave you on the streets
10:14 The importance of starting small
11:39 Set an example for those you work with
12:38 Being a “kindness hero”
13:40 How to teach kids kindness
14:58 How to spread the message of kindness
16:08 Lara’s book Practical Kindness
17:16 Take a leap of faith
About Lara Heacock
Lara Heacock is the author of Practical Kindness: 52 Ways to Bring More Compassion, Courage & Kindness into Your World. She’s a life and leadership coach who runs the popular personal development blog Kind Over Matter. Drawing on her background of nearly 20 years in corporate America, she works with professionals and companies to help them use kindness to end the epidemic of burnout.
Find out how you can work with Lara.