06 Dec Self-compassion may be what you need to improve body image
When you listen to people speak about their lives there is often a strange discord between how they treat others, and how they treat themselves. We may be loving and forgiving with our family and friends, but judgmental and punitive with ourselves. This can be especially true if we’re trying to change an aspect our lives, such as our body shape.
Wanting to change ourselves, whether it is our body and eating patterns, our studying habits, or the way we interact with others, is often difficult. We can feel a sense of urgency to change these areas, and end up expecting too much, too soon. This can lead to the sense we have failed, and end in feelings of self-hatred, which rarely end in positive or healthy behaviours. So not only is punishing yourself unpleasant, but it is often unhelpful too. We may give up on our new lifestyle (what’s the point? I can’t change), or get back on track but feel like we’re living in prison (any misstep leads us to feel low).
Some common signs we might need more self-compassion are:
- People telling you you’re “too hard on yourself,” a perfectionist, worrying too much, and so on.
- You have very high standards that are difficult to meet
- Often feeling like you’ve ‘failed’
- Having strong negative feelings about yourself
So, what is the alternative? Self-compassion is about being gentle and forgiving with ourselves, similarly to how we would act if a loved one went through our situation. It might involve re-evaluating our standards, looking at the bigger picture, and focusing on our strengths. Minds4Health and Young Minds has a Body Compassion group program for men and women over the age of 18 years that aims to help foster self-compassion in people who are dissatisfied with their body.
Please contact us if you are interested in more information about body compassion.
Author: Di O’Malley – Founder and Managing Director of Young Minds Health and Development Network and Counselling Psychologist.
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