Hands up if you think to show yourself a bit of compassion is wimpy.
You’re not alone. It’s a common thought that compassion, kindness, and empathy are signs of weakness, especially regarding ourselves.
Are you sad? “Man up!”
Did you eat something that was off-plan? “What’s wrong with you?!”
Don’t like what you see in the mirror? “Ugh, you’re so fat.”
These are all things I’ve said to myself (in the past–I’m kinder now). How often do you do the same?
What if I told you that self-compassion makes your weight loss goals more effortless, more enjoyable to attain, and more sustainable?
Crush Your Weight Loss Goals With Self-Compassion
It’s more natural to judge ourselves harshly when we make mistakes. We often feel alone in our misery and wonder how everybody else does everything better than us.
Self-criticism doesn’t do what you think it does. It isn’t a way to motivate or inspire you to take action. It doesn’t make you more disciplined, and it limits your ability to achieve your goals.
Don’t believe me? Let’s have a look at how self-compassion works.
#1. How Would You Talk to a Friend?
Be kind. Those two words are everywhere I look at the moment. And for a good reason.
Imagine your friend comes to you and tells you their struggle to lose weight gets them down daily. They can’t help but eat cakes and cookies when they feel overwhelmed. They hate the way they look.
What would you respond? Would you double down on their negative self-talk, Chastise them, or offer encouragement? Would you be kind? I want you to try to be a friend to yourself.
I’m not telling you to excuse every foolish decision you make. But you can be understanding and nurturing to yourself instead of judgmental and over-critical. As the good doctor says,
#2. Words are Powerful
The switch from beating yourself up every time you ‘fail’ to showing compassion to yourself can be a game-changer for weight loss. Here are two conversations you might have with yourself:
- “I did it again. I ate the fries and milkshake even though I wasn’t hungry. What’s wrong with me? I’m such a pig. I’ll never lose weight. Screw this.”
- “Interesting. I ate the fries and milkshake because I feel overwhelmed at the moment. What could I do differently next time? This is a journey. I’ll try to make better choices.
One is easy. We want to lean into harsh, criticizing self-talk because it’s familiar. And it precedes the typical cycle of ‘cheating’ on your diet and ‘starting again’ on Monday.
Two sounds like hard work. It’s the long game. It forces you to delve deeper into your fears, shortcomings, and emotions.
But the second conversation leads to real change. Not temporary motivation, but long-term changes that make you more resilient, better able to bounce back, and more open to learning, growing, and developing healthy relationships with yourself and others.
#3. Find Ways to Practice Self-Care
When your default is to eat your feelings, it can feel impossible to break the spell of food for comfort. But there are ways to practice self-compassion and free yourself through self-care.
When you catch yourself about to dive into a tub of Pringles, pause, take a breath. Try something different.
- Go for a brisk walk
- Curl up on the sofa and read a book
- Run a bath
- Do a puzzle
- Talk to a friend
- Watch your favourite TV show
There are more, but you get the picture.
If you still want the Pringles? Go for it. But remember to eat slowly, stop when you’re full, and enjoy the experience.
#4. You’re Not in This Alone
People who look like they have it all together are going through the same shit as you. Or different shit. The point is everyone is going through something. Everyone has challenges and makes mistakes.
When you see yourself as part of the whole instead of an isolated screwup? You’ll avoid the self-pity party and might even end up helping other people in the same position as you.
You could join group challenges that resonate or start your own group for people that struggle with the same things you do. However you decide to include others, just know that you’re not alone.
#5. Progress Over Perfection
If you’ve come this far, you might be talking yourself out of self-compassion (it won’t work for me), you could be thinking it’s mumbo jumbo (I prefer to chastise myself, thanks), or you might be feeling overwhelmed with the changes you need to make.
It might take some time to undo years of self-criticism and destructive habits. Just noticing what you’re doing and trying to think differently is a step forward. Here is where the concept of small victories comes in.
Whenever you decide to do something different, pat yourself on the back. Celebrate yourself. You are changing. That doesn’t mean you’ll always make the right choice, but every time you do, that’s a win.
And it’s self-compassion.
Practicing Self-Compassion is Like Going to the Gym
Treat self-compassion as a muscle. Every time you go to the gym and load a bit more weight on the bar, or increase reps, you build muscle. You get stronger. Some days going to the gym is more challenging than others. Other days, you feel invincible.
Likewise, you build and grow the compassion muscle every time you’re a bit kinder to yourself or make decisions based on love, not self-criticism. There will be days it’s easier to be compassionate, and other days where you revert to old habits.
Take your time. And if you need some guidance or structure for applying everything you’ve learned today, reach out to me personally here.