Self-compassion may be what you need to improve your body image

When you hear people talking about their lives, there is often a strange difference between how they treat others and how they treat themselves. We may be loving and tolerant of our family and friends, but we judge and punish ourselves. This can be especially true if we are trying to change an aspect of our life, such as our body shape.

It is often difficult to desire to change ourselves, whether it is in our body and eating patterns, our study habits, or the way we interact with others. We can feel the urge to change these areas, and we end up expecting a lot, very soon. This can lead to feelings of failure, and end in feelings of self-hate, which rarely end in positive or healthy behaviors. So not only punishing yourself is unpleasant but often unhelpful as well. We may give up our new way of life (what’s the point? I can’t change), or get back on the right track but we feel we live in prison (i.e. a mistake that leads us to feel weak).

Some common signs that we may need for more self-compassion are:

  • People tell you that you are “too hard on yourself”, ideally, worry a lot, etc.
  • You have very high standards that are difficult to meet
  • You often feel like you “failed”
  • Having strong negative feelings about yourself

So, what is the alternative? Empathy for oneself is to be kind and tolerant of ourselves, and likewise how we behave if one of our loved ones goes through. It may involve reevaluating our standards, looking at the bigger picture, and focusing on our strengths. Minds4Health and Young Minds have a group body sympathy program for men and women over the age of 18 that aims to help boost self-compassion in people who are dissatisfied with their bodies.

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