Be kinder to yourself in 2024

New Year’s resolutions are often an opportunity to be harder on yourself. We think we’re all plenty hard on ourselves already. For 2024, we invite you to be kinder to yourself. We’ll suggest a focus, and you do whatever works for you (or nothing, if that’s what kinder looks like!). Let us know your thoughts and feelings.

    CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESSES

    Think of a time you advocated for yourself. Did you set a limit or ask for what you wanted? It could be a big deal (maybe you asked for a raise or left an unhealthy relationship). Or it could be something small (like requesting extra ketchup, or asking a roommate to remember to lock the door). Now, celebrate the fact that you did that! Throw yourself a little party inside your head! Every small self-care or self-protective action you’ve taken fans the flames of future self-advocacy – but only if you remember to notice it!

    ASK SOMEONE TO HAVE YOUR BACK

    Ask someone to have your back. The women in the Obama administration noticed that sometimes they had trouble being heard, or their contributions were ignored, so they decided to be megaphones for each other. As Juliet Eilperin wrote in The Washington Post, “When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution—and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.” Who can you ask?

    RESPECT YOUR GUT

    When something’s moving too fast, or when you’re having trouble making a decision, or if you’re not sure about someone, take a pause. Listen to your body, and see what it knows. What would happen if you went with what it’s telling you — if you trusted yourself? It’s important to know how to connect with your intuition, because your unconscious mind, which takes in information quickly through all five senses, often knows when something or someone’s a problem before your thinking brain does. If you tend to ignore your gut, consider giving it a promotion!

    YOU HAVE RIGHTS

    As humans, we have the right to be safe and to be treated well. In a world that’s unsafe for women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ people, among others, we have the right to do whatever we need to do to be as safe as we can. It might be difficult to embrace this right. Here are some rights our students have written for themselves. Which ones resonate with you? What would you add?

    I have a right to…

    • ask for what I want,
    • be in public spaces, including online, without harassment,
    • be treated with respect at home, work, school, in public, and everywhere,
    • be spoken to calmly, without yelling,
    • be touched only with consent,
    • defend myself, including fighting back if attacked,
    • feel however I feel without my feelings being minimized or ignored,
    • feel like my body is my own,
    • have my boundaries respected,
    • have sex only when I want to,
    • insist on safer sex and/or on birth control use,
    • refuse sex with someone I’ve been sexual with before, or say no to sex acts even if I’ve done them before,
    • say “no” once and be heard,
    • set limits with emotionally draining friends,
    • take care of myself, not just others,
    • take up space in the world,
    • walk around any time of the day and not be attacked,
    • wear what I want,
    • work without being harassed.

    All of this is from “Get Empowered: A Practical Guide to Thrive, Heal, and Embrace Your Confidence in a Sexist World” by Defend Yourself director Lauren Taylor with Nadia Telsey. In the book, you’ll find 101 more exercises! And check out getempoweredbook.com, where you’ll also find a free bonus chapter.