We all have times here and there where we don’t feel particularly great about ourselves or how we look; however, what makes some people get over it more quickly than others? It turns out the key is self-compassion.
A recent study was completed at the University of Waterloo that examined 153 undergraduate women. Each woman was asked to complete a questionnaire about their weight, their self-esteem, how they viewed their own body and eating behaviours in addition to recording their actual height and weight. It turns out that the more self-compassion the women displayed, the less bothered they were by disappointments regardless of their height or weight. One of the researchers went on to add..
“Regardless of their weight, women with higher self-compassion have better body image and fewer concerns about weight, body shape or eating.
There is something about a high level of acceptance and understanding of oneself that helps people not necessarily view their bodies more positively, but rather acknowledge their bodies’ imperfections and be okay with them.”
Self-Compassion vs Self-Esteem
The thing that makes self-compassion so important is that it is not saying you’re better or worse than anyone else; you’re just accepting yourself where you are at. This differs greatly from self-esteem, as this is often based on how you rate yourself in relation to other people. People with low self-esteem would often consider themselves less important than others; making this attribute difficult to change.
How do you improve your self-compassion?
- Talk to yourself like you would a friend – How are you talking to yourself when you have experienced a disappointment or are feeling bad about yourself? Are you talking to yourself like you would a friend? Probably not. When feeling low, try writing out a letter to yourself as if you are writing a comforting email to a friend of yours in the exact same situation. Chances are you wouldn’t tell your friend about all the ways they messed up and how bad everything will turn out; so why would you talk to yourself that way?
- Be mindful of your self-talk– You can’t change how you’re talking to yourself if you don’t first notice you’re doing it. It’s likely that you’re so used to criticising yourself that you don’t eve notice when you’re doing it. Try checking in with yourself every so often just to check in on the tone of voice you’re using.
- Be compassionate towards others – When we help out others, whether it’s a friend or through volunteering, we feel more connected in our relationships and in our communities. When you’re going through a tough time, you’re more likely to focus on yourself and how things are affecting you. By helping others, it can help take the focus off yourself, and help you to feel better about what you’re going through.
Nicole Paulie is a Counselling Psychologist, and co-author of “How to be Happy and Healthy – The seven natural elements of mental health.” She provides therapy in the Dublin city area. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.