There’s a big problem we need to address before you take your next trip down the self-help aisle…
even though we want to like ourselves more…
even when we believe ‘self-compassion’ is the best way to finally enjoy our bodies for good…
even though we have a feeling that beating ourselves up isn’t helping us like food and sex any more…
…we have been trained to be self-critical on such a base level, that we are brainwashed.
We believe, underneath all the positive affirmations and mantras, if we stop beating ourselves up, we will get lazy, complacent, and that we’ll never advance, improve, drop the pounds, or “get better.”
We hang on to our self-criticism. It’s like we are in an abusive relationship with ourselves.
Our sub-conscious thought is that we still have to restrict and deprive ourselves, muscle through, strain, and toil to find happiness and achievement.
I had the honor to coach a woman I truly respect and admire recently…
I’ll call her Janice.
We got on the phone, her in LA, me in Brooklyn, and talked about her desires to create a work-life balance that really honored her mission to run a great company, while at the same time preserving precious time with her daughter and creative time for her own passion projects.
Janice was also struggling with mind chatter that went like this:
I’m in this high-powered role, making good money, but I feel like people are looking at my body because I have a good 15 pounds to lose, and I’m not as young as I used to be, and all these young female execs are hungry and hotter than me, and my sex-life is on the rocks even though I WANT my sex life to be what it used to be, and WHY do they order cookies for every meeting, when am I going to get the trainer with all these meetings on my schedule, and can I get home in time to make a healthy dinner for my daughter and not get distracted by work email so I can actually BE THERE for her childhood?!!! I need to stop eating so much…I wish I had a cocktail right now…
She had come to me to try to end the destructive cycle of if I work harder and put more restrictions on myself then I’ll finally be happy and good enough to deserve pleasure…
My insights for Janice were totally counter to what she thought she needed:
Beating yourself up, restricting your pleasure in life, is like throwing yourself into a cage match with wild animals: your mind and biochemical responses are so stressed that your body is essentially trying to escape the stress by escaping YOURSELF, which is impossible, or to fix the stressed body through suppressing it, which is self-destructive, or you end up avoiding the feelings with food, or other counter-productive actions.
Self-compassion, honey. That’s what you need in this transformation process.
“I hear ’self-compassion,’ but I really believe that if I relax into acting that way, I’ll lose control, gain even more weight, lose my drive, and become a total slug.” Janice was on the edge of a breakthrough…
But here’s the truth:
beating yourself up will never get you a loving, happy relationship with your body…
Beating yourself up blinds you from seeing the truth behind your cravings, and keeps you in a war with what your body is telling you.
Janice confused self-indulgence with self-compassion.
Self-indulgence is what we do to numb our emotional pain and stress, rather than see, feel, and complete the cycle of stress through self-care. (This is where emotional eating, emotional shopping, and other habits come into play)
Self-compassion is taking a deep breath, stepping back, taking the judgment out of your situation, and being patient with yourself through the process of healing and taking a break to align your desires with your life. It gives you the peace you need to choose a new way to manage and honor your cravings.
I gave her an assignment, and I want you to do this too:
Write Your Self-Compassion Manifesto
1. Get comfy with a cup of tea, and preferably a kitten and a cup of tea. (kitten optional)
2. Write an honest description of the situation you’re beating yourself up about. You could be lecturing yourself about work and career path, ranting in your mind about your weight and eating habits, or condemning yourself for your sexual desires and body image. Or all of the above! Include the mental chatter and “bitch brain” criticism word for word…
3. Now write the name of a dear loved-one at the top of the page.
4. Get another fresh page, and imagine this person, who you love so much, and that they are describing this same problem to you. S/he has come to you for help, and you are listening with a full, empathic heart. You give her your best, loving advice. Write what you would tell her as if you were in your best, calm, strongest place. Tell her what she needs to hear.
5. Reread what you wrote to her. This is for you.
Self-compassion is a habit.
It’s a series of actions and awareness practices that helps you to relax (thereby calming your mind and biochemistry), get clear (which helps you define your vision, desires, and mission), and most importantly…
…self-compassion is a tool that helps you enjoy more moments in your body, ever day of your life.
Once you write your self-compassion manifesto, I want to hear from you below in the comments!
Where can you have more compassion for yourself?
What did you feel shift as you wrote and re-read what you said to your “best friend?”
How do you view self-compassion differently now?
Inspiration from: Come As You Are, Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, Kristin Neff
Have a friend who would LOVE a way to honor her body and her cravings? Share the “What to do when you have a craving” chart! Just copy this link and email it to her… http://bit.ly/cravechart