Graphic by Nate Barton
I recently attended a Weight Watchers meeting and what they were teaching extended far beyond weight. It delved into an idea that applies to every aspect of life. The lesson was self-compassion, a principle that encourages every individual to be as kind to themselves as they would a best friend.
In the context of weight loss, this means to forgive ourselves when we make poor eating decisions, just as we would a friend. “Are your friends perfect? No, right?When they fall down you pick them back up,” Weight Watchers printed in their weekly pamphlet titled “Shift Your Mindset.” “Give yourself the same permission to be imperfect — just like every other human being.”
We did an activity to change our unhelpful thoughts into helpful ones. This was a three-step process, beginning with acknowledging an unhelpful thought. For example, you receive a poor score on an exam, you have the thought “I’m so stupid, why do I always do this?” This is an unhelpful thought.
The next step is to do a reality check on the unhelpful thought. Review the big picture and ask if this really is as catastrophic as it seems. It’s one test out of many, and a score doesn’t define a person. Decide on a course of action and reject the unhelpful thought.
Next, give yourself the same advice. Return a helpful thought to yourself: “I think I’ll go to the library and look up the questions I didn’t understand. For the next test I’ll study three days earlier instead of one.”
Self compassion is not a foreign concept and has been proven to help people achieve their goals.
“When you take your successes and failures in stride, you may find that you’re less afraid of failure and more satisfied with life,” according to a 2007 publication of The Journal of Research in Personality.
It is important to remember that abuse does not always flow outward. Acknowledging unhelpful thoughts and revising them as if speaking to a loved one creates a habit of kindness that carries over to every aspect of life.
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