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Self-Compassion for Better Health

self compassion

You may be treating your loved ones and associates with love, but are you showing the same love to yourself? Many people find it easier to support and understand others, but they often over-criticize their own shortcomings. Research suggests that self-compassion is healthy and makes people more optimistic and happy. In fact, self-compassion can even have an effect on our diet and help people shed extra calories.

Self-Compassion is not Self-Indulgence
Many self-help books preach that self-discipline and willpower are essential to live a healthy life. But, self-compassion does not mean lowering your standards or indulging yourself. Health experts say many people fight shy of self-compassion because they think it might make them self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is required to be disciplined.

Compassion for Kids

Take the example of parenting. When parents find that their kid is struggling with academics or has a tendency to over-eat junk food, they offer support and extra help. But, in the same situation many adults become negative and criticize themselves too much. This makes them de-motivated and less able to make the required changes.

Self-Compassion Breeds Motivation
Researchers say self-compassion breeds motivation. If you have self-compassion, you are more likely to opt for healthier rather than harmful choices. Dr. Kristin Neff, a university professor, and author of a recent book on self-help, has devised a scale to measure people’s self-compassion.

Meditation Boosts Self-Compassion
If you score less on the self-compassion scale, Dr. Neff has a few exercises for you such a penning down a letter supporting yourself. You can also list your strengths and weaknesses, and tell yourself that many others are in the same boat as nobody is perfect. Dr. Neff also advocates meditation and chanting affirmative mantras to boost self-compassion.

Research On Self-Compassion

Research backs up the efficacy of self-compassion. In 2007, Wake Forest University researchers found that self-compassion can have a positive impact on eating habits. They found that self-criticizing women indulged in emotional eating, while those with more self-compassion did not overeat.

Self-Compassion for Weight Loss
Another expert, psychotherapist Jean Fain, who has authored a book on the subject, says that self-compassion is required for weight loss diets rather than self-neglect and deprivation. Meanwhile, Dr. Neff has started a research study on whether self-compassion reduces anxiety, depression and stress, and promotes life satisfaction and happiness. Dr. Neff says developing self-compassion means one has to first unlearn old habits, before consciously building on the new one.

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