Letter to my kids: Be kind (to yourself)

My dear wonderful children,

When I teach mental health and wellness classes, I sometimes tell the participants that we ought to treat ourselves like we are responsible for taking care of ourselves.

In reading the scriptures this morning, I found this:

“Be not partial towards [thy brethren] in love…, but let thy love be for them as for thyself” (Doctrine and Covenants 112:11, emphasis added).

We all talk to ourselves. Sometimes we speak to ourselves in rude ways. Please don’t do that. You wouldn’t say such mean things about yourselves as you would to your best friends. Treat yourself as your best friend. Would your best friend—or, better yet, would your Advocate with the Father, the Savior Jesus Christ—say those things about you? Well, then, don’t say them about yourself.

How do I know you occasionally say mean things to yourself? Because it is human nature. We are often harder on ourselves than any other person would be.

I’m reminded of what Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf once said:

“This topic of judging others [and yourselves] could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, … ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it!” (“The Merciful Obtain Mercy,” April 2012.)

In the same conference talk, Elder Uchtdorf also said, 

When the Lord requires that we forgive all men, that includes forgiving ourselves. Sometimes, of all the people in the world, the one who is the hardest to forgive—as well as perhaps the one who is most in need of our forgiveness—is the person looking back at us in the mirror.

While this forgiveness applies to serious and less serious sins, it also applies to the mistakes we make that are not sinful. As humans we tend to ruminate, perseverate and focus upon the failures in our lives rather than on the accomplishments. We tend to look at what we don’t have or what we’re not. We tend to look down on ourselves.

Try instead to accentuate the positive. When you’re tempted to focus on something that brings you down, focus instead upon better things. 

President Russell M. Nelson said:

The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.

When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation, … and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy. (“Joy and Spiritual Survival,” Oct. 2016.)

Treat yourself—and view yourselves—as the Savior would. Be kind and loving to others and, please, please, remember to be kind and loving to yourself.

I love you, and I’m proud of you.



Jeffrey Denning

Jeffrey has written award-winning articles for the Washington Times, Guns.com, and other publications. He is the author of seven books, including Warrior SOS: Military Veterans’ Stories of Faith, Emotional Survival and Living with PTSD. He teaches courses on peer support, suicide prevention, and other mental wellness and resilience to public safety professionals. If you would like Jeff to speak at your event or training please contact him HERE.

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