GET OFF Your Own Back


by Hal Donaldson

Before Kate Winslet became an Academy Award winner, she had to learn to admire her body and be kind to herself. The star of such films as Titanic, Divergent, and Steve Jobs, she grew up running from bullies. Day after day, she felt the sting of their insults because she was “chubby” and couldn’t afford fashionable clothes or the latest hairstyle. Cruel words and childish pranks chipped away at her self-esteem. For years, she suffered from feelings of inferiority.

Kate now works to inspire girls—including her own daughter—to embrace who they are regardless of their size or station in life. To combat stereotypes, Kate regularly practices a self-esteem exercise with her young daughter: “I stand in front of the mirror and say to Mia, ‘We are so lucky we have a shape. We’re so lucky that we’re curvy. We’re so lucky that we’ve got good bums.’ And she’ll say, ‘Mummy, I know—thank God.’”1

If your self-esteem has been injured, tell yourself, “I am special. I have something unique to offer the world.” The more love you have for yourself, the more love you have to give away. It’s easy to obsess over your perceived shortcomings, but they aren’t real. The bar you set for yourself should be based on your unique qualities and talents—not those belonging to someone else. You have a unique capacity to bring hope and beauty to the world. Don’t waste your precious energy using the wrong ruler.

Granted, not everyone will acknowledge your unique gifts. But don’t allow how others see you to dictate how you see yourself. The words they use to describe you don’t define you. You can’t control how they respond to you, but you can influence what they have to respond to. So, what are you showing them? Sadness or joy? Greed or generosity? Apathy or kindness? What do your facial expressions and words convey about how you view yourself? If you tell yourself you’re ugly, untalented, and unlovable, you’re probably sending that same message to others.

If you’ve been wounded by friends or family—or through insensitive remarks or blatant attacks—you’re not alone. Millions live with secret pain. Bitterness has stolen their dreams and buried their talents. But you can reject that outcome. You have the power to break free from anger and resentment and to set a new course for your life. Don’t fix your eyes on your past; fix them on what you can become.

Here are ten ways you can be kind to yourself:

1. Don’t look back. You will face obstacles and hardships, but make a decision that you’re going to press on beyond life’s disappointments and challenges. Life’s windshield is large and the rear view mirror is small—because what is in front of you is far more important than what is behind you. What you dwell on determines your destination and destiny.

2. Encourage yourself. Throughout the day, give yourself pep talks. Build yourself up rather than tear yourself down. When the weight of the world is on your shoulders, get off your own back!

3. Spread optimism. Television legend Fred Rogers said positivity is a form of kindness: “If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”2

4. Forgive yourself and others. Harboring guilt and bitterness is like allowing a weed to grow in your front yard. One of the best ways to be kind to yourself is to pull that weed out by the root so it never grows back.

5. Be a peacemaker. Conflict is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to create permanent disunity and disharmony. Keep your stress level low by overlooking minor matters and giving others the benefit of the doubt.

6. Remain healthy. Be kind to yourself by getting adequate rest, eating right, exercising regularly, and taking time each day to just be with you.

7. Surround yourself with the right people. Nurture friendships with people who will tell you the truth, guard your back, and offer fresh perspective. Minimize the influence of petty and passive-aggressive “friends” by not inviting them into your inner circle.

8.Learn to be content. Often people are unhappy, unfulfilled, and chronically anxious because they believe the grass is greener elsewhere. They tell themselves life would be more fulfilling with a new relationship, different job, better apartment, or nicer car. In the Bible, an imprisoned follower of Jesus wrote, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Phil. 4:11 NIV).

9. Celebrate others’ success. Besides serving others, also look for opportunities to honor their achievements.

10. Smile in the mirror. Make it a routine to look at your reflection and say, “I love the person God made me.” In your quest to assist others, invest in yourself. Be careful not to ignore your own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs while serving others. Find a balance between helping others and taking care of yourself. You won’t be investing in anyone if you’re chronically fatigued or emotionally spent. The airlines have it right when they instruct passengers, in the event of an emergency, to put the oxygen mask on themselves first. Your well-being is essential to the well-being of others.

What have you done for yourself lately? What are you looking forward to? Vacations, date nights, exercise, and reading are great ways to incentivize and rejuvenate your heart and mind.

Investing in yourself will pay dividends for you and others. Today, move beyond the obstacles, stereotypes, and lies that have kept you from being “at your best.” Tiptoe if you must, but take the first steps toward being kind to others by being kind to yourself.


1. Keep a journal in which you record your daily blessings.

2. Take at least a fifteen-minute walk alone each day.

3. Create a “bucket list” of things you want to experience and places you want to go.

4. De-clutter your life by cleaning your house and organizing your files.

5. Reduce your stress level by following a financial plan.


Hal Donaldson co-founded and serves as president of Convoy of Hope, Inc. Since 1994, Convoy of Hope has distributed nearly $1 billion worth of food and vital emergency supplies to more than 70 million people.

Related Links

Facebook: /convoyofhopeTwitter: @HalDonaldsonInstagram: /convoyofhopePinterest: /convoyofhopeBook: http://yournext24hours.comConvoy of Hope: www.convoyofhope.orgBuy the Book!

End Notes

1. Maria Yagoda, “Kate Winslet Preaches Body Positivity to Daughter Mia: ‘We’re So Lucky We Have a Shape,’” People, July 28, 2015,

2. Mark Tabb, Living with Less: The Upside of Downsizing Your Life (Nashville: B&H, 2006), 22.

Taken from Your Next 24 Hours by Hal Donaldson, published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copy-right © 2017. Used by permission.

Be kind to yourself by getting adequate rest, eating right, exercising regularly, and taking time each day to just be with you.