Be Kind to Yourself: Releasing Frustrations and Embracing Joy, By Cindy Bunch alt

Be Kind to Yourself

Releasing Frustrations and Embracing Joy

by Cindy Bunch
Foreword by Ruth Haley Barton

Be Kind to Yourself
  • Length: 160 pages
  • Published: July 28, 2020
  • Imprint: IVP Formatio
  • Item Code: 4677
  • ISBN: 9780830846771

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When we experience frustrations in daily life, many of us hold ourselves to blame. Self-criticism is often our default setting. But we can have a more gracious posture toward ourselves. We can practice disciplines of self-kindness.

Editor and spiritual director Cindy Bunch calls us to self-care through greater compassion for ourselves. She helps us pay attention to the frustrations that bug us in order to identify negative thinking about ourselves or others. As we do so, we can discern what we need to let go. This allows us to lean into the things that bring us joy. Each chapter is filled with spiritual practices and creative exercises for reflection and celebration. The pages of the appealing smaller book format are illustrated with photographs and art from the author.

Be kind to yourself. And discover new opportunities to embrace joy.

"'The only true gift is a portion of oneself,' writes Ralph Waldo Emerson, and this, to me, is an apt description of what Cindy has done in the book you hold in your hand. She has shared with us generous portions of herself—her own story, her honest struggles, and the practices that have helped her endure and find joy in the midst of it all. Since all of us have our own stories that include joy and pain, gladness and sadness, this is something we all need."

From the foreword by Ruth Haley Barton, founding president of the Transforming Center

"Be Kind to Yourself is a lovely gift of grace. I love that it is filled with practices to help act as antidotes for difficult times. This really is a sweet treasure to reach for when life is feeling especially unkind; it's guaranteed to inspire a new perspective."

Christine Valters Paintner, poet and spiritual director, author of Earth, Our Original Monastery

"'What's bugging you? What's bringing you joy?' With these two simple questions, Cindy Bunch, like an experienced mariner, masterfully steers us through the choppy seas of negative self-talk and disheartening feelings that we all know so well. Each chapter of Be Kind to Yourself is a testimony to an important insight: by responding to God's grace with classic spiritual practices, we can anchor our lives in a peaceful harbor resplendent with joy and free of frustrations. This is wise and practical spiritual formation at its best!"

Albert Haase, OFM, author of Becoming an Ordinary Mystic: Spirituality for the Rest of Us

"For some time I have been contemplating writing a book that would offer support for life's ordinary days. Now I won't have to write it because my dear friend Cindy Bunch has written an inviting, creative book of reflection and noticing. All too often we are focused on the highs and lows of life, which may be less than 20 percent of our days. But how can we enjoy the plain, old, routinely typical day? Thanks, Cindy, for inviting us to see and know the presence of God in the ordinary days of our lives and helping us to hold on to the 'unforced rhythms of grace.' May Be Kind to Yourself become a go-to for all who long to stay awake to the beauty and revelations of life."

Juanita Campbell Rasmus, spiritual director, copastor of St. John's United Methodist Church, Houston, and author of Learning to Be: Finding Your Center After the Bottom Falls Out

"The beauty of Cindy Bunch's book Be Kind to Yourself is its simplicity and balance. With just two questions, What's bugging you? and What's bringing you joy? Cindy presents a daily framework for a disciplined but tender spiritual life. Be Kind to Yourself is both practical and confessional. An array of old and new practices helps the reader to mine and illumine those two questions. Stories of her own faithful but flubbed spiritual life encourage us to be gentle with ourselves in the challenging work of prayer and devotion. What Cindy offers is an honest, doable, and shameless way to connect to God and self."

Sybil MacBeth, author of Praying in Color and The Season of the Nativity

"In her book Be Kind to Yourself, Cindy Bunch vulnerably shares her journey of surrender, and in doing so, she's given us a precious gift. Cindy generously and lovingly shows us how to listen to our own hearts and for the voice of God. Be Kind to Yourself is chock full of essential truths and insights, and creative, empowering, and practical tools. As a writer, counselor, and spiritual director, this book challenged and encouraged me to be more gentle with myself and others. I believe it will do the same for any small group, retreat, book club, or individual wanting to more fully embrace joy. This book is a treasure trove that you will return to again and again."

Sheila Wise Rowe, counselor, spiritual director, and author of Healing Racial Trauma and The Well of Life

"I sometimes say unkind things to myself that I would never say out loud to another person. We really do need to learn to be kind to ourselves as God is kind to us. Be Kind to Yourself is a beautiful and practical guide to show us how. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Cindy."

Alan Fadling, president of Unhurried Living and coauthor of What Does Your Soul Love?

"Reading this book is like taking a walking tour of real life at ground level and making the surprising discovery that each day's prickly pokes and elegant graces are fodder for meaningful engagement with life and God. Cindy Bunch, in her marvelous book Be Kind to Yourself, shares her own story with candid vulnerability, stopping along the way to illustrate and introduce creative and livable spiritual practices. This book is truly a gem, and from an author who embodies its truths artfully and authentically. You will love it!"

Beth A. Booram, cofounder and director of Fall Creek Abbey and coauthor of When Faith Becomes Sight

"There is a sweet space where wisdom and innocence meet in the relationship between those who have given themselves to the rhythm of spiritual formation for a long time and those whose commitment is new. Cindy Bunch found it and then set the table for all of us to come together, using the same practices, to explore who we are in God and who we can become."

Suzanne Stabile, author of The Path Between Us and host of The Enneagram Journey podcast

"Be Kind to Yourself is one of those rare, triple threat books in Christian spiritual formation. One, it actually makes you want to do the work—and it is work—of formation. Two, it offers deep and wise and authentic counsel that is both ancient and current as it deals with life in our modern world of technology and social media. And three, it offers the right level of intensity—too difficult and we quit, too easy and we don't grow. We need this book right now. It will teach you not only how to be kind to yourself but also to love yourself rightly so you can naturally be a blessing to others."

James Bryan Smith, author of The Good and Beautiful God

"'Be gentle, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.' I heard this quote from John Watson when I was a teenager, and I've returned to it often throughout my life. While I think I'm pretty good at being gentle with others, I can be shockingly cruel to myself. Cindy Bunch's wise new book shows us how to extend the same compassion to ourselves that we've all been taught to give to others. It's a self-kindness rooted in the affection and attention of a God who is simply wild about us. I wish I'd had this book twenty-five years ago. I'm grateful to have it now."

John Pattison, coauthor of Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus

"In this delightful and practical book, Cindy Bunch offers creative—even playful—ideas for cultivating awareness about the things that provoke us and bring us joy. Be Kind to Yourself is a generous invitation to relax into the grace of God and embrace a posture of compassionate curiosity rather than self-condemnation. I'm grateful for Cindy's wisdom and transparency and will read and recommend this book again and again."

Sharon Garlough Brown, author of the Sensible Shoes series


Foreword by Ruth Haley Barton
Introduction: What’s Bugging You?
Recording a Daily Examen: Days One to Ten
1. I Had a Bad Day: Paying Attention to the Beautiful Things
2. I Can't Believe I Said That: Speaking Kindly to Ourselves
3. Beyond My Control: Creating a New Mental Playlist
4. I Saw It on Twitter: Knowing What to Let Go
Recording a Daily Examen: Days Eleven to Twenty
5. Ringing in My Ears: The God Who Sees Me
6. When Life's on Hold: Establishing Self-Care Practices
7. It Wasn't Supposed to Rain Today: Discovering What's Underneath
8. I Can't Believe He Did That: Forgiving Others
Recording a Daily Examen: Days Twenty-One to Thirty
9. I Cracked Under the Pressure: Taking One Thing at a Time
10. Things I Don't Want to Do: Gratitude Flip
11. Second-Guessing Myself: The Wisdom of the Enneagram
12. I Don’t Have Enough Time for the Things I Want to Do: Finding Time for What Nourishes Us
Epilogue: What's Bringing You Joy?
Appendix: The Intuitive Art Process
List of Practices
Figure Credits


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Cindy Bunch

Cindy Bunch is a divisional vice president and associate publisher for InterVarsity Press, where she has worked for more than thirty years. She acquires and develops for the Formatio line of spiritual formation books. She is the author of Be Kind to Yourself as well as several Bible study guides in IVP's LifeGuide® Bible Studies series. Cindy holds an MA in theological studies from Northern Seminary and completed her spiritual direction training at North Park Seminary. She and her husband live in the Chicago suburbs.