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When you look in the mirror are your thoughts for yourself kind, or are they full of criticism? Do you see extra weight and tired eyes, or are you admiring how much your posture has improved?
Many workplace wellness programs are focusing on what behavior and lifestyle risks employees can change or improve. A new wave of behavior therapies is to focus on changing attitudes over changing behavior. What if we offered a new perspective of self-compassion towards health behavior change. Adopting an attitude of self- kindness means doing things that are nurturing, caring or compassionate towards oneself.
Acts of self- kindness that lead to better self-care may include:
- Taking a warm bath
- Going for a walk or jog
- Eating a nourishing meal
- Enjoying a well-deserved day off
These behaviors of self-compassion, relate positively to the body and mind simultaneously. Treating oneself with compassion is a skill set that can be learned. It starts with understanding that treating oneself harshly is only going to make it harder to get through tough times in life. On the other hand, self-soothing behaviors that are calming and generally help to get through the roadblocks of life and make distress more tolerable.
Over the last decade, research has shown a consistent, positive correlation between self-compassion and psychological well-being. People with self-compassion have also been shown to have greater social connectedness, emotional intelligence and overall life satisfaction.
Self-compassion is not:
Self-pity. Self-pity is being immersed in one’s own problems and feeling as if they are the only one in the world suffering.
Self-indulgence. Self-indulgence is giving oneself pleasure now, that may harm future well-being. Self-indulgent pleasures include excessive drinking, taking drugs or overeating.
People are hard enough on themselves. When they are aware of something they want to change, shame will not motivate action. It is compassion that provides a powerful motivating force for growth and change. A healthy perspective can help individuals face difficult truths about their weaknesses, identify and build on strengths and guide them to the intrinsic compassion for a powerful motivating force for growth and change.