If someone asked you to recall the last time you were kind to yourself, would you struggle to bring up that memory? What does it mean for you to be kind to yourself? Do you practise self- kindness? Perhaps you find the word “self” off-putting – it seems selfish or self-centred somehow. In this episode, we discuss the importance of being kind to ourselves first, because being kind to others must start with self. It is not selfish and the truth is, self-kindness is also an essential component of good mental health. Research shows that when we carry out an act of kindness, the brain releases serotonin, the feel-good hormone which has a calming effect and stimulates positive feelings in the body. Imagine what this can do for your life! Today’s episode offers three simple ways to treat yourself with kindness and how to incorporate acts of self- kindness into your life each and every day.

In this episode

01:06 — What Does It Mean to Be Kind to Yourself?

03:29 — Love Yourself First

04:57 — 1. Stop Setting Unrealistic Expectations for Yourself in Any Given Situation

10:46 — 2. Self-Compassion

11:56 — What Is Self-Acceptance?

13:06 — Making Mistakes and Learning From It

15:31 — 3. Do Something That Brings You Joy Everyday

17:12 — Importance of Me Time

18:46 — Giving Yourself a “Break”

20:24 — Conclusion


Dr Marisa Lee Naismith is excited to announce the release of her new book “Singing Contemporary Commercial Music Styles: A Pedagogical Framework” published by Compton Publications UK. Marisa offers this book as a starting point and as CCM markets continue to evolve, she encourages that we, as a voice community, continue to evolve, debate and communally add to this framework.



Visit the A Voice and Beyond Youtube channel to watch back the video replay of this guest interview or to see my welcome video.

Episode Transcription

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  00:02

It’s Marissa Lee here. And I’m so excited to be sharing today solo round episode with you. Whether you’re a member of the voice community, or beyond your voice is your unique gift. And my mission, which has been inspired by my own personal and professional journey is to empower you to share your gift with others. Now is the time for you to discover your voice in life, develop a positive mindset, and become the best and most authentic version of yourself to create greater impact. Ultimately, you can take charge, and you can become the director of your own life. It’s time for you to live your best live. It’s time now, for A Voice and Beyond. So, without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  01:06

If someone asked you to recall the last time you were kind to yourself, would you struggle to bring up that memory? What does that even mean? What does it mean to you to be kind to yourself? 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  01:26

And if I asked you to name all the things you love, how long would it take before you included yourself in that? We talk a lot about kindness as a value. It’s a quality we look out for in our family, our friends, our colleagues, our partners, but how can we be kind to others when we’re not being kind to ourselves first? How can you love others, when you don’t start with your own self love? 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  02:04

Perhaps we find the word “self” off-putting—it seems selfish or self centered somehow. But think about this.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  02:14

If you were a used car salesman, and there was a car in the car yard that you thought was full of problems, and totally neglected, the engine was worn out, you hated the color. The mileage was way too high, the oil had never been changed, and you thought it was not worth the money they were asking for it. How hard do you think it would be for you to sell that car? You don’t believe in the car? You hate that car? So why would you want someone to buy it? How hard would you be pushing to sell that car? Or would you be pushing to sell other cars, the ones that are all around it. When you don’t invest in yourself, and you’re not being kind to you and you see all your flaws? How are you going to present yourself to others. All the you are going to see are all those flaws and you develop a form of self loathing. And this is something that will follow you around all day, every day in every aspect of your life. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  03:29

So you must be kind to yourself and consider yourself a work in progress. This means that you must work on yourself constantly with love in order to have an amazing relationship with yourself. In turn, this will allow you to have an amazing relationship with others. If you’re not kind to you, you are going to be unkind to others. You find you’re constantly in some kind of conflict with others. This is not the true you this is your baggage doing the talking. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  04:06

Let’s be honest, it’s not always easy to be 100% kind to ourselves all of the time. Sometimes we might catch ourselves saying or thinking something nasty about ourselves or being hard on ourselves. If we fall slightly short of the expectations that we place on ourselves. Maybe we overthink our actions. Wish we looked a certain way or regret how we handled ourselves in that last tricky conversation with a friend. But let’s take a look at three ways we can start to incorporate self kindness:

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  04:57

Stop Setting Unrealistic Expectations for Yourself in Any Given Situation.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  05:05

Life can be so challenging. And there have been so many situations that can occur outside of our control and didn’t COVID prove that to us all. And when a situation happens, it’s not easy to manage all of those feelings of overwhelm that we experienced during those difficult and most unexpected times of chaos. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  05:29

Being kind to yourself is learning to be okay with not always being okay, and not always being in control. As cliche as this may sound, you’re only human after all. And putting such high expectations on yourself is not going to serve you. You have to learn to cut yourself a break, and even learn how to fail better. As a dear friend of mine, Heidi Moss says, failed science experiments occur in laboratories all the time. So why can’t you have a fail from time to time? Whether it’s in the workplace or in your personal life? Who are you trying to impress? If you’re going to be perfectly honest with yourself, the answer is you you’re trying to impress you. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  06:28

Here, I’m telling you all this stuff, when, trust me, I can be so hard on myself. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a high achiever. And I do put such high unrealistic expectations on myself. At one point, I couldn’t remember ever being kind to myself, I grew up with a lot of expectations from a demanding mother and others around me, their expectations were all about them and being right. This left me with the need to prove myself constantly. And it gave me an inner critic that berated me at a very early age. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  07:15

So when I began my performance career at the age of 15, I loved being applauded at the end of every song. These were the songs that I had spent hours and hours rehearsing and getting as perfect as possible. That applause and instant gratification was amazing. And that positive encouragement made me feel so good about myself. I kind of became addicted to that feeling. And it drove me to continually exceed other people’s expectations by making my own even higher. My inner critic accepted nothing less. And perfectionism became a way of life really. But this idea of being perfect is impossible to maintain. It’s nothing short of hard work. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  08:12

Even now, in my voice studio as a teacher, I take my work so personally, and set a high expectation for my student outputs to the point that at times I take responsibility for some of those things that are even out of my control, such as students not practicing. How silly is that? It’s not my fault. If they’re lazy. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  08:40

I need to stop being so hard on myself. And do you need to do the same? You may say, but I’m so easygoing, and I don’t ever wrap myself over the knuckles for anything in life. Okay, well, do you ever recall a time where you caught yourself thinking something about yourself? That wasn’t so kind or something that you would never say to a friend when you took a fall? Surely the answer is yes. We’re all guilty of this. It’s okay. You’re not the only one who has these thoughts. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  09:22

Another way we can work towards being kinder to ourselves is by practicing daily affirmations. This could be as simple as writing a caring note to yourself and sticking it on your bedroom wall or on the bathroom mirror so you can see it first thing every morning. Something like I am enough. I am worthy just as I am. I am growing and learning every day. I write these mantras down in my journal every morning because you know I’m still a working pro Progress, we can all do better with this idea of setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves. And we must do the work to be kinder to ourselves, not be so hard on ourselves. And this is especially important when we start to feel out of control or in despair. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  10:21

Whatever you do, embark on a journey of self discovery. Learn what works for you. Learn to become more gentle on yourself. And this will cushion your fall, if things don’t go as you expected them to.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  10:46

Learning to practice self compassion is a great place to start when it comes to being kinder to yourself. If you’re continually disregarding all the positive things you’ve achieved, and focusing only on the negative experiences and failures in your life, this is totally unhelpful. And it’s a terrible way to think, which is why practicing self compassion can be really useful to increase a positive sense of self encouragement. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  11:21

Self-Compassion is about accepting that you have value and you are worthy. Self Compassion is being okay with who you are, even when you make those mistakes, or things don’t work out perfectly. Being self compassionate, can help to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, improve your sense of worth, and your ability to think positively about a range of situations whether they’re good or bad. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  11:56

One aspect of self-compassion is self-acceptance, which has been defined as our ability to be all accepting and encompassing of every aspect of who we are. This includes extending kindness and acceptance to ourselves, even in the face of perceived inadequacy, failures or shortcomings. You can practice self compassion by first acknowledging any negative or unhelpful thoughts about yourself and gently challenging yourself to reframe these thoughts or experiences in a far more positive light. For example, the thought “I am not good enough”, or “I should have done better”, or “I always make the most stupid mistakes” are common thoughts that we all experience at some time in our lives. a really useful tool to develop is the ability to respond to these negative thoughts with self compassion, and self acceptance. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  13:06

These could be reframed into, “it’s okay to make mistakes. I’m learning from each mistake that I make, and everybody makes mistakes”. The more that you practice being self compassionate, the more naturally it will come to you. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  13:25

All of us have unhelpful thinking styles. And another example of this includes having that kind of mental filter where you only hear certain things that people say to you. Not only do you think poorly about you, but you had this poor selective hearing, and you’re constantly misinterpreting things that people say to you. You’re turning irrelevant, insignificant, flippant comments into deeply personal ones. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  13:58

You can turn this around by practicing self compassion. And this is simply by noticing the next time you catch yourself thinking about those negative, unhelpful thoughts about yourself and reframing them into more positive ones. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  14:16

As a community, you know, we rarely talk about self-compassion. And yet there’s so much research that shows the benefits of self-compassion on our overall well being. Self-Compassion can lead to an improved quality of life, wisdom, curiosity, happiness, resilience, optimism, heightened feelings of self-worth and more meaningful relationships with others. Those who are self-compassionate, are less likely to be critical of themselves and less likely to be anxious and depressed, which in turn leads to greater life satisfaction. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  15:04

I know it sounds like I’m trying to do the hard sell. But if you’re still not convinced, I don’t know what more I can say, other than just try it for a week. Try it for a month and I can assure you, you will never look back

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  15:31

Do something that brings you joy every single day. Self-kindness refers to acting in kind and understanding ways towards ourselves. And doing something that brings you joy must become a priority in your life. You must become a priority in your own life. Commit to doing at least one thing every day, that’s just for you—have yourself a long bath, light some candles, do that yoga class that you’ve been putting off for months, go for a walk along the beach, go into your garden and take a moment to appreciate nature. Have a coffee with a friend, do whatever brings you joy. But whatever you do, make sure that you do at least one thing every day that gives you that sense of fulfillment and wellbeing. This might sound like way too much for some of you because you’re very overcommitted, you are time poor, and you feel like a hot mess. But this is really important stuff. You must take a little time for you every day. You know, even if it’s just 10 minutes to start with. You don’t have to do anything extravagant—just allowing yourself a lie in breakfast in bed or going for that walk something that shows you how much you care about yourself is fine. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  17:12

In my day to day, this means scheduling time for those things that leave me feeling peaceful, confident or healthy. It means taking care of all those areas in my life that empower me to show up each day at my best. It’s my me time. This is so important to my mental and emotional health and well being. It’s so important for me to be flexible with my me time also.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  17:43

Sometimes my me time can mean something different depending on what I have on my plate for that day. So if I’ve been super rushed throughout the week, this might look like a skincare routine or doing something like a face mask. This time needs to be very fluid. As you know our needs can change from day to day, especially when we’re feeling really overwhelmed with work. It’s okay to make this a priority in your life. It’s not being selfish, as this is all part of self kindness. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  18:21

If you have been neglecting having time to yourself, one of the best ways to manage through chaos is to anchor yourself in routine, Schedule regular exercise, which has well documented mental health benefits. Try taking up a regular meditation if you haven’t already—there truly is no time like the present. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  18:46

This might sound too big a picture for some but when was the last time you gave yourself some guilt free time off where you actually went away on a holiday. If this is something you struggle with, and I know I have in the past. Try starting with booking a little staycation for the weekend where it’s a short drive away. This is such a great way to replenish and regain your perspective on life. I can guarantee you that once you do this, you’ll want to do it more and before you know it you will be totally addicted and will start making plans for a decent break away.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  19:36

Being kind to yourself means simply recognizing that we’re all human, acknowledging that we’re all vulnerable in some way. So instead of beating yourself up when you mess up, or things don’t work out the way you planned, it’s time to treat yourself with kindness and compassion. It’s time to become mindful of the conversations going on in your head. And let go of that inner critic that can sometimes become so firmly entrenched in your mind. When you notice you’re being hard on yourself, take a step back and offer yourself love and kindness instead. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  20:24

Being kind or loving yourself is not selfish. And the truth is, self kindness is also an essential component of good mental health. We know that with kindness comes alongside all kinds of health benefits. We know for instance, that when we carry out an act of kindness, the brain releases serotonin, the feel good hormone, and this has a calming effect and stimulates those positive feelings in the body. So imagine what this can do for your life, you will start to experience a sense of wonder. Those are the moments we all live for—when all of a sudden we see the world through new eyes, in a way we could never have known was possible. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  21:19

As I said before, being kind to ourselves 100% of the time is so hard. And yes, there are going to be setbacks. But don’t be hard on yourself when that happens, because we’re only human. Remember, in those moments, learn to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start again. believe in you. Don’t give up. Kindness must start with you. Be kind to yourself today and see how everything changes. You are worth the effort. Always have been and always will be. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  22:09

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of A Voice and Beyond. I hope you enjoyed it as now is an important time for you to invest in your own self care, personal growth and education. Use every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow, so you can show up feeling empowered and ready to live your best life. If you know someone who will also be inspired by this episode, please be sure to copy and paste the link and share it with them. Or share it on social media and use the hashtag #AVoiceAndBeyond. I promise you I am committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one every week. And if you’d like to help me, please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple Podcast right now. I would also love to know what it is that you most enjoyed about this episode and what was your biggest takeaway. Please take care and I look forward to your company next time on the next episode of A Voice and Beyond.


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