Written by Claire Sykes.
There you go again, diving into another bag of potato chips. So you beat yourself up with harsh words. You’d never treat a friend this way! You know she feels better when you show her some love. Do that for yourself and you’ll feel better, too.
Showing yourself such kindness isn’t always easy, however. “Seventy-six percent of people are more compassionate to others than to themselves,” says Kristin Neff, PhD, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself (William Morrow) and the audiobook Compassionate Body Scan (Sounds True).
Maybe you think if you criticize yourself, others won’t. Or if you give yourself a break, you’ll let yourself get away with too much, so instead, you shame yourself into action. Our society tends to see self-compassion as self-indulgence, self-pity and selfishness. “Women, especially, are taught to care more for others,” says Neff. “Most people aren’t raised to be kind and supportive to themselves.” Those who were had responsive parents who made them feel valued and securely loved.
Self-compassion fosters self-worth. “You’re also more optimistic and satisfied with your life, and are happier in relationships. You’re better able to cope and be resilient, and there’s less depression and anxiety,” says Neff.
A 2012 workshop with Neff kept Bal Phipps, 49, of Lincolnshire, England, on the self-compassion path. “Now I feel motivation to take better care of myself,” Phipps says. “I’m more relaxed, and have more confidence and courage, so I’m more comfortable in social situations.”
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