The most important skill we can develop in life is to be kind to ourselves. For example when you find the courage to do something that makes you a little nervous like an audition, or sing or even public speaking for the first time. Even if you make a few mistakes say this to yourself afterwards.
“Good job, I am proud of you, you did well for your first time and each time you do this in the future you will do a little better”
What a wonderful outlook and belief to have. How empowering is it to always remember we are the director of our thoughts and completely in control of each and every thought we have.
When we catch ourselves belittling and doubting ourselves just simply be assertive and say “no” to each and every negative thought pattern that arises. Watch with wonder how this little exercise can completely change your life. When we are kind to ourselves it’s just as easy then to apply this kindness in all our interactions with others.
Let me share a little example that recently happened in my own life that demonstrates this phenomena quite well.
I was walking my dog 2 weeks ago when some nut claiming to be a fan of my music shot me in front of my home. The first lesson here is was this individual being kind to himself when he shot me? I think not, in fact that act of self sabotage will destroy his life as he knew it.
Once I felt the bullet enter my chest and saw the blood I said to myself. “Eric you have just been shot, be calm and go away from this individual and go towards someone that can help you.” I went to my neighbor’s house and he was in the front yard. I calmly said to him
“Please call 911 I have been shot. Please call 911 I have been shot. Thank You”
He was scared as we did not know each other yet. It was OK though he could see I was in danger and he went inside grabbed a gun and called the police on my behalf. Because I knew it was important to be kind to myself in a life threatening situation I also kept that belief in how I treated my neighbor.
Remember how you do anything is how you do everything.
After I got home from the hospital Brett (my neighbor) and his lovely wife Tau and their three children came over and brought me some Carne Guisada and Chocolate Chip cookies. All of his children’s names start with the letter “T” We had a nice visit and Brett shared with me this-
“Eric, you were so calm and polite to me when you came into my yard and asked me to call 911. I couldn’t believe how nice you were and you in danger of dying with a chest bullet wound.”
I didn’t realize it at the time but now that I look back at it I am happy I was able to breathe and stay calm. I had to be nice to my body and my heart rate needed to stay calm. All those years in martial arts taught me the importance of breath.
It was also very important to me to be kind to my neighbor and all the police and paramedics. I never lost consciousness at all during this and I attribute that to being kind to myself even under pressure.
My friend Allan Holdsworth called me yesterday and said so many kind things to me. My friends Melissa Kinney, Clint Strong, Eric Delegard, Jimi Tunnell, Audrey Brown, Mark Holderbaum, Christy Windle, Ashley Beane, Jubal Sarvis, Trey Smith and his Mom Kathleen and Aunt Mary-Beth, Jim Gardner and Lisa Vasquez, Kei Nagano, Rafe Foreman, Rina Shelton, Jeff Redding, Kristen Holderbaum, Tim Trawick, Dave Gerdes, August Roberts, Tex Bosley, Elliot Morgan, Big Dog, Clark Erickson, Matt Thompson, Salam Matsuda, Jose Gonzales, Hsian Kang, Keith Higgs and and his girlfriend Melissa, Dominic and Patty, and my sister Kathi Keyes all came to see me at the hospital.
When it comes to kindness; “You must dedicate your life to mastering this skill,” “This is the key to success.”
Watch the movie “Jiro dreams of sushi” I did while I was in the hospital. It changed my life. My friends Teiichi Sakurai and Aya Matsuda recommended it to me. It’s the beautiful story of Jiro Ono a kind passionate man who dedicated his life to his craft and carefully monitors every exact detail of a customer’s experience in his restaurant. He does so because he cares.
People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.
That is the principle behind being kind to yourself. It sets the tone as then you will have the sensitivity and awareness to instill kindness in all of your outward expression with others.
The thing that becomes true about you is the thing you think the most often.
It’s why I remind all of the great musicians that perform and study with me that they are great and that they are masters. I tell each and everyone of them to say to themselves “Every note I play is the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard”
I learned that from Jazz pianist Kenny Werner.
Take a deep breath and be kind to yourself.
You deserve it.
Much Love and kindness