How to Be More Self-Compassionate

I hope you’ve been finding the Body Independence Week stories, articles, and daily activities helpful. I’ve mentioned self-talk and self-love in the past, and we’re going to get into that a bit more today. People often encourage others to be compassionate, to show empathy, and to be considerate… of others. However, how often do you hear someone suggesting we be all those things towards ourselves? Not too often in my experience. Today, we’re going to talk about how to be more self-compassionate with the idea of body independence in mind. Today’s activity will be a little deeper and little more real (which is why we cleared our heads yesterday)! Let’s get into it.

how to be more self-compassionate

How to Be More Self-Compassionate

What is Self-Compassion?

Think first about when you feel compassion for another. You realize that their suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the human experience we all share – that we all encounter these three aspects of life. According to Dr. Kristin Neff, self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself, especially when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. In short, cutting yourself some slack is a great idea.

The research that has been done so far suggests that being self-compassionate could be beneficial.

A study by researchers at Wake Forest University suggested that even a minor self-compassion intervention could influence eating habits. One group was given a lesson in self-compassion before participating in what they believed to be a food-tasting experiment.  The instructor said, “I hope you won’t be hard on yourself. Everyone in the study eats this stuff, so I don’t think there’s any reason to feel real bad about it.”

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that women who were regular dieters or felt guilty about forbidden foods ate less after hearing the instructor’s reassurance. Those not given that message ate more. The women who felt bad engaged in emotional eating. The women who gave themselves permission to enjoy the sweets didn’t overeat.

The best part? Self-compassion can apply to more than emotional eating.

5 Steps You Can Take to Be More Self-Compassionate with Your Body

1. Talk positively about your body and avoid self-criticism.

Think about the way you talk about yourself and use challenging statements when self-criticizing. Think about what that criticism might sound like if said to someone else. Why speak that way to yourself?

We’ve been practicing speaking positively about our bodies; continue that! It’s time to change the way you think about and see yourself for the better. On the flipside, try to avoid the hurtful lanuage.

2. Be honest about and express your feelings.

When you’re feeling emotional, choose your language carefully to express how you feel. When you’re feeling down about your body, ask yourself why? Is it really stress, exhaustion, or something else? Effectively express what you feel, without bringing in the extremes or more drama.

It is time to recognize that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable. Be honest about how these moments make you feel, but try not to be so hard on yourself. Be gentle, warm, and compassionate.

3. Focus on your attributes OTHER than your appearance.

We tend to give others and ourselves compliments on physical appearance. “Cute dress!” “Your hair looks great.” You get the idea. Let’s flip that switch. Take time to acknowledging the things about your personality that you love.

Embrace your intelligence, bravery, creativity or strength. Look for ways to highlight these bits of you that make you who you are on the inside. Instead of spending your time worrying about your weight or how your body looks, focus on the aspects of you that are even more valuable – your heart and your nature, your truths.

4. Look for positive role models and outlets.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my Friday Favorites – Body Independence Edition that will have a lot of accounts, sites, etc. that feature body positive men and women. By now, we know Photoshop and social filters are laid over people’s best photos are often what gets posted. I encourage you to resist the temptation of self-comparison.

You know that phrase, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle or end?” It definitely applies here.

Don’t put these people on pedestals. Find role models who encourage you to love who you are, where you are. Look for people who empower you to choose and do great things in society.

5. Treat yo’ self.

If you’re feeling down about your body, do another activity that’s a treat yo’ self activity! Comfort yourself with a gesture. You can choose to focus on self-care or meditation. Sometimes people view self-love or self-care as self-indulgent. That’s a wrong assumption. At the end of the day, you need to focus on your happiness and how you feel.

A little mani-pedi, massage, or another activity that relaxes you could be just what you need to take a step back and re-evaluate. (Note here that I am saying activity.)

Today’s Activity:

body independence week featured imageBy now, you should have declared your body independence, found your mantra for your body, challenged your self-perceptions, and done a freeing activity. Now that your mind has been cleared, think about the ways in which you’ve talked down to yourself and about your body. You’ve practiced challenging those statements the last couple days, I hope. Now, focus on being compassionate.

Take this self-compassionate quiz from one of the experts in the field, Dr. Kristin Neff. Then, try taking a self-compassion break while thinking about body image and body independence. It’s only 5-minutes long! You can also view some of the other exercises that help you work through that inner dialogue.

How will you be more self-compassionate?

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