I love this new research about self-compassion. Our culture often gives us the message that we need to be tough and disciplined with ourselves, yet many aspects of our culture are not very healthy, from obesity, diabetes, and the standard American diet (SAD) to politics, greed, and the environment.
How can we as individuals change this? How do we get healthier? You can start with yourself.
A cutting edge of psychological research shows that giving yourself a break may move you toward better health instead of away from it.
Kristin Neff’s book, Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, is on my to-read list.
People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic. Preliminary data suggest that self-compassion can even influence how much we eat and may help some people lose weight.
Dr. Neff, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, distinguishes between self-compassion and self-indulgence. A key question is whether you treat yourself as well as you treat the people you care about. Would you tell your child or best friend what you tell yourself when you are struggling?
Also, having compassion for your own suffering does not mean that nothing needs to be done. You can take a moment to feel what you’re feeling, have compassion for yourself, and then consider what you can do to make it better.
This is one of the reasons I like doing and teaching the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) using the method I learned from Dene Ballantine.
- You accept your own not-so-great emotional experience with compassion.
- You bring your focus into the present and onto yourself, without judgment, by forgiving yourself and others. You let go of the story.
- You create a direction for movement toward a more pleasant emotional experience.