If I want to be treated with kindness, I must first be kind to myself. Then I must treat others with kindness. Only then do I have a reasonable expectation that others will be kind towards me. How, then, am I to be kind to me?
I think most of us tend to be harsher towards ourselves than others. We have that pesky inner dialogue that never shuts up. Even when we are able to mask our less than noble intentions, and less than charitable thoughts, from everyone, we still know, don't we? And that struggle is ever present. I am not saying that I am evil, rotten, selfish, self-serving to the core. I am just saying that I am more aware of my failings and foibles, and that is not always a warm and fuzzy feeling to have.
I can edit my words, and monitor to some degree my non-verbal cues as well, but that inner me is always on, and is brutally honest. I need to learn to be nicer to me. I need to be kind in small and large ways to me. For it is only when I can say, "It's ok, and you are doing the best you can at this time in this situation." that I am able to extend the same kindness to others.
Self-deprecation can go too far, and I am of the opinion that it is a defense mechanism. I need to say, "You did well in this way. Yes, you need to maybe do better here or there, but overall, not bad. Not bad at all." When I put myself down, it is preemptive - If I call attention to my less than stellar performance, or quality, then I am shielding myself from the hurt and anger that wells up when others do so. It is like this mechanic I knew years ago in Florida - Denny. He would deliberately let oil or grease get on his fresh uniform very early in the day. Then he was ok with any mishaps, because the clean was already gone. He knew that he would be dirty by the end of a job, so he took care of the irritation of that first smear of grease or oil right off the bat. It freed him from the worry of messing up for the remainder.
That may work fine with hands on labor and tasks, but it is a disaster when it comes to how we treat ourselves emotionally. If I deliberately treat myself in a harsh manner, it is sending a message that harsh is what I expect, what I deserve. After I have made myself feel like crap, it is all too easy to pass along that negative energy and attitude to friends and strangers alike. And when they treat me the same way in turn, it perpetuates an unhealthy cycle that I started.
So I need to remember, as Sonya Friedman has said, that the way I treat myself sets the standard for others.