Are you on your own side when it comes to your self-care? Are you a friend or foe to yourself?
What story does your body tell about you? Does your body speak neglect and carelessness? Or does your body say to the world that you care about the one body you were given and you want to take care of it? It may sound harsh, but it’s really just a way to get honest with yourself. No matter the excuses, the weather, the busy schedule, the life events that can take you off course, your body speaks the results. Like it or not, it’s your billboard to the world.
If you want to change the story your body tells about you, the fight first has to be won in your head. The Harvard Medical School just did a special health report on positive psychology and harnessing the power of personal strength and the study addressed the importance of self compassion…
Are you the type of person who always feels defeated? Are you convinced you cannot change and often say you have tried everything to no avail? Do you beat yourself up when you get off track, eat too much, skip a day or week of exercise? Are you always criticizing your body and spending time brooding about the things you don’t like about yourself?
One of the keys to having more success is to change your attitude by having more self compassion. “Self-compassion means being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate, rather than flagellating ourselves with self-criticism,” according to the Harvard study. It can make a difference in your mood, and your outlook.
Developing your ability to comfort yourself is like living with your own personal coach in your corner—YOU. Now, I’m not talking about making yourself feel better as your easy out to overeat or skip exercise, I am talking about developing your ability to be kind to yourself as your motivation to change. When you are kind to yourself, you are essentially telling yourself that you deserve kindness, you deserve to be treated well, and then you will start doing it MORE.
Related: 3 Ways To Practice Self-Compassion
Studies show we talk to ourselves every day and 70 percent of self-talk is negative. Believe me, I do my own fair share of self-criticism, but I have trained myself to stop, breathe and reverse. Reverse the nit picking and be thankful for what I have, and how hard I work. When I teach a fitness class, I tell my participants, “You are awesome,” 20 times in an hour. I want them to walk out the door and believe they are awesome, so try a little of that on your own.
Be your own coach. Say you have a tough day at work, aren’t you excited to go home where you can exhale and be around people and things you love? That’s the kind of sacred space you can create for yourself in your mind too. Do you coach yourself back up when you are down? Do you say kind things to yourself when you are feeling particularly low? You will be amazed at the transformation you will experience when you start coaching yourself positively in your head. And the best benefit? If you are self-accepting, you always have a kind place to retreat when you need a recharge. You don’t have to seek external comfort that’s not as healthy, like the wrong foods.
Practice being kind to your body. Ever notice you feel awful when you overindulge and how terrific you feel after a cardiovascular workout? Your body is talking to you! Listen to it. Reward your body with water, fresh fruits and veggies, healthy cooking and controlled portions. Be kind to your body with stretching, walking, moving more and a regularly scheduled exercise regimen that works for your schedule.
View each day as a clean slate. To practice self compassion means ditching the you that likes to beat yourself up at the slightest transgression. According to the Harvard Medical School Special Health Report, “A 2007 study showed how self-compassion can help people stick to their diets. Dieters who break their diet by eating too much often tend to blame themselves and eat more afterward as a way of dealing with those bad feelings. But women in this study who learned to feel self-compassion were less likely to overeat in reaction to having gone off their diets.” See? You get a permanent pass off the hook here. Whenever you wander off track, skip exercise or overindulge your sweet tooth, just decide what you have learned and move on. Try to be different next time. Beating yourself up is pointless. It only makes you feel bad; it doesn’t get you to where you need to go. Develop a short encouraging statement you will use like: I’m starting again. Do over. Or, new day, new me!
Treat yourself like you would a friend. I bet you say things to yourself you’d never think of uttering to a friend or to a child. Decide today to be on your own side and soon you will love the story your body tells about you. Be a friend, not a foe to one of the most important people in your life—YOU.