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Self-Compassion Aids in Weight Loss and Happiness

March 7, 2011

Do you try to be compassionate towards others? What about towards yourself?

A new area of psychological research that looks at how kindly people view themselves has been finding that many individuals who find it easy to be compassionate towards others often score low on self-compassion tests.

“Self-compassion is the missing ingredient in every diet and weight-loss plan,” says author and Harvard psychotherapist Jean Fain. Her new book, The Self-Compassion Diet proposes this idea and a recent New York Times article discusses the new wave of research behind the concept.

So, why aren’t more of us practicing self-compassion? Some researchers found that one of the biggest reasons is that individuals are afraid of being self-indulgent. Self-compassion should not be confused with self-indulgence or keeping low standards for yourself.

It’s also difficult to unlearn habits that you have learned over a lifetime. Self-compassion can only have room to develop from active and conscious practice.

Our culture conveys to us from an early age that being self-critical and hard on ourselves is the way to be. From that stems the common advice that many doctors and self-help books provide about self-discipline and willpower being the keys to better health. However, experts are finding that self-compassion actually creates motivation.

A majority of common diet plans revolve around self-discipline, deprivation and neglect, however new data suggests that self-compassion can impact how much we eat, what kind of things we eat and even help some people lose weight. Perhaps even more noteworthy is that people who practice self-compassion have lower levels of depression and anxiety and are happier and more optimistic, overall.

Do you think there is room for you to be more self-compassionate?