Respect Yourself

by Anne Bennett on March 4, 2011

Let’s say one of your best friends is struggling with her weight. One day she confesses to you that, although she knows better, she’s been on an emotional junk food bender, and she feels out of control and distraught.

What do you do? Do you berate her for being weak and undisciplined? Do you call her unflattering names and tell her that she’s worthless? Of course not. She is your friend and you want to help her, not tear her down.

Well, there’s a new area of research called self-compassion, and it suggests that when we give ourselves a break and forgive our own imperfections, we are more likely to succeed at tasks such as weight loss. In other words, we need to treat ourselves exactly like we would our best friend. Easier said than done.

The research also shows that people aren’t good at being self-compassionate because we think we must be hard on ourselves in order to succeed. Our wrong thinking tells us that we must exercise self-control and willpower and not give an inch to our inner, spoiled child. We must keep ourselves in constant, self-critical, check.

Jean Fain, author of the new book,”The Self-Compassion Diet,” says that self-compassion is the missing link in weight loss programs. Most diets involve a sense of deprivation and self-deprecation, which is why so few diets are ultimately successful.

Consider the number of times you’ve criticized yourself for eating donuts at work or succumbing to the bag of chips your husband brought out at TV time. Has that self-judgment ever gotten you anywhere but more frustrated and further from your goal? My guess is probably not.

How might self-compassion help you? Think about it: the next time you eat through a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies, try telling yourself that Thin Mints are mighty hard to resist; acknowledge that you may be having a difficult time right now and figure out a way to comfort and care for yourself that doesn’t involve eating the other sleeve (every box has two).

One of life’s paradoxes is that, while we may often think of ourselves as our own worst enemies, ultimately when push comes to shove we are also our own best friends.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie Snook March 7, 2011 at 11:01 am

I LOVE this! I’ve sent that article to several friends. I plan to continue to remind myself to have a little more compassion w/myself actually A LOT more! Thanks Ann!

lin March 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Anne, is this a book you think is worth owning as it is not available at the library?
Thinking about you this week; have a great time.

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