(reprinted from our May 2011 Newsletter)
Are you as kind to yourself as you are to your friends and family?
If not, you may be at greater risk for depression and other health problems, even including weight gain, recent research suggests. Studies show that many people who are supportive and understanding to others tend to score low on tests of “self-compassion”, and tend to beat up on themselves for things like overeating or not exercising. Then, instead of feeling inspired to change their behavior, these folks will likely feel worse, which may lead them to overeat even more.
On the other hand, people who score high on tests of self-compassion seem to suffer less depression and anxiety, and are generally happier. Self-compassion can even help people lose weight. Researcher Kristin Neff at the University of Texas, quoted in the New York Times, explains how self-compassion helps with motivation. “The reason you don’t let your children eat five big tubs of ice cream is because you care about them. With self-compassion, if you care about yourself, you do what’s healthy for you rather than what’s harmful to you.” Her book, “Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind,”was published last year. In the book she explains exercises, such as writing yourself a letter of support, meditation and “compassion breaks,” where you repeat a phrase such as “I’m going to be kind to myself in this moment.”
Dr. Neff also has a website, http://www.self-compassion.org/, where you can read more about her work or purchase her book.