The first of January is here again and I encourage you to have self-compassion especially at this time. I’m hearing so many people state their New Years resolutions. I hear them put such high expectations on themselves on achieving their goals and they’ve made them unrealistic and unattainable.
It’s difficult to be self-compassionate while grieving.
They forget about having self-compassion while making their resolutions and make the goal way too big.
Some of the goals are:
- To lose 45 kilos in 3 months
- Go to the gym every day
- Eat 1000 calories a day
These are achievable, but limiting. People get frustrated with their progress and give up by berating themselves for not having willpower etc. Few people talk about their mental health before they even think of doing these things. If you consider having self-compassion these goals may look more like:
- I want to eat nutritiously to be healthy and feel great
- I’ll write a list of what movement I like to do and choose something from that
- It doesn’t matter how many calories I eat a day because food is nourishing and I know it will help my mood
Why I’m writing this
The reason I’m writing this today is because I read an Instagram post from one of my friends about her new year’s resolution and it was unsettling and upsetting to read. It was a very long post, berating herself all the way through. She shared her self-talk, which was really brave of her. But it was terrible to read that she was talking to herself in that manner. She constantly calls herself names like fat, ugly bitch.
Instead I’d love to read that she’s going to choose her food more carefully, the food that is nourishing because what she eats will help her health and build muscles and in turn loss weight. Dr Libby Weaver says that you need to eat healthily first, then you lose weight. She is a nutritional biochemist, a best selling author and speaker.
My friend is a beautiful, caring, sensitive person. And it’s tough hearing her say these words about herself. When I told her how much it impacted me, she was stunned. She replied, “It’s only me, I’m not hurting anyone”. I asked, “Would you say those things to other people?” She replied, “Oh, no, of course not. I wouldn’t be so rude or hurtful”. Our discussion continued, and she finally realised how much she was harming herself.
So now, her intention for 2021 is to find a good therapist who will help her with the trauma that she shared with me.
Self- compassion is essential. It’s where you find out that what you say to yourself you will become. People who have self- compassion are more likely to be resilient, have better wellbeing and will have lower levels of anxiety, depression and stress.
Sounds great, right? The sad thing is, we’re taught to treat others well, but we aren’t really taught, for the most part, to treat ourselves with kindness first.
I can remember my mum saying ‘Be kind to them, even if they’re mean to you’. And I also passed this message on to my children. If I had my time over again, the discussion would be around how my child was feeling about what the other kids said. And how they were internalizing the message from the other kids. The next step would then be how to talk to the kids who were being mean.
What is self- compassion?
When I say to my clients, you’ve got to think of yourself first, put yourself before others. The next thing they say is,” I don’t want to be that selfish”. This isn’t being selfish – It’s having compassion for yourself. So you can then take care of others without resentment. It’s about being kind to yourself.
Often people struggle with self criticism like, I’m fat and ugly; I should do more; I’m so lazy; I’m not good enough; Why would people listen to me; and so many more things. Sometimes people feel that this self-talk is the only motivation they have. This isn’t true at all. There’s no evidence to back up their belief that this motivates them. In fact, you create more stress for yourself. Being kind to yourself is being understanding and accepting of yourself without criticism.
Kristin Neff, a researcher and author says, “If you are continually judging and criticizing yourself while trying to be kind to others, you are drawing artificial boundaries and distractions and distinctions that only lead to feelings of separation and isolation”.
So, if you’re treating yourself badly and don’t have boundaries, you’re going to end up resenting doing everything for others while not taking care of yourself.
What you can do
Focus on yourself. Be kind, compassionate and understanding of yourself. As if you were talking to a friend.
- Notice your self-talk. Would you say that to a friend?
- Acknowledge that you need to concentrate on changing how you talk to yourself. Studies show that after hearing one bad comment or thought, you need five good comments or thoughts to drench the bad one.
- Act- change the way you talk to yourself and treat yourself with respect
As Louise Hay once said, “Your thoughts create your tomorrows”.
Let me know about your self-talk and the steps you’re taking to change it. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share it with me.