How Compassion Is A Gateway To Self-Love

When we think of self-love we think things like –

Loving the way you look. Loving your body. Being flawless.  

It’s a picture perfect life, and you’re ready for self-love, just as soon as those things are aligned. Just as soon as you deserve it.

We refuse to accept the idea of self-love, because ugh…

“How can I love myself when I am so lazy? When I’ve let myself go like this? When I’m eating whatever is convenient, usually out of a bag or box? 

How could I possibly love myself while I’m living pay check to paycheck, didn’t join the PTA, haven’t been to church, dropped out of school, got passed up for the promotion? 

Who could love themselves when they cheat on their diet, collect too much debt, or rage at their children? I could never.

I should be loving myself when I didn’t call that friend back? When I lied to get out of going to that “thing,” or stretched the truth to make myself look more impressive. When I gossipped, overslept, was unkind?

Even when my gym card hasn’t been scanned in months, I forgot what vegetables taste like, and I totally spaced that appointment?

When I have all these wrinkles, cellulite, and stretch marks? That reminds me, time to schedule my botox.”

As a coach who believes in getting to uncomfortable truths to solve the weight problem, I’ve heard it all. Many of them, I have worn as a belief system of my own. I get it. 

We come up with these ideals and usually impossible standards for ourselves. Then we go about making a to-do list in order to achieve them.

But not in a reasonable time frame. No, we want to do it all, yesterday.

Often times the to-do list only lives in our head, but it plays on repeat. 

You aren’t good enough, until…

You will be worthy of it when…

We work toward the barbie body, and the big fat paychecks. We try to be mother/daughter/sister/wife/friend of the year, but eventually something has to give. Usually many things at once. 

Cue the beat down. The not-enoughness. We treat ourselves in a way that we would never imagine treating anyone else.

It seems logical. Afterall, we’re letting ourselves down. Realistic expectations be damned!

It’s much easier to love yourself when you’re lovable. That’s surface love, it’s weak, and it keeps you stagnant.

When you are feeling less than loving though, try compassion. Lose the judgement, and inner mean girl crap. 

It won’t always be sunshine and rainbows, because life. When life sucks because you aren’t being 100% ON, compassion is just what you need.

When you practice compassion, it’s safe to be in your body. You don’t have to run from the garbage in your head. It’s not nearly as scary. It’s tender.

When was the last time you took empowered action from a place of darkness? How did that work out for you?

If none of this is enough to encourage you to try out some compassion, let’s look at the science. 

A recent study* on binge eating found that strategies for cultivating self-compassion are associated with improved food-related self-regulation in the context of negative mood. 

In other words, those who cultivated self-compassion not only reported the food less desirable/pleasurable, but they also ate SIGNIFICANTLY fewer calories.

They wanted to eat less naturally, and so they did. That isn’t fluff. It’s freaking powerful.

When things are messy, go to compassion immediately. As instantly as you possibly can. Don’t allow your mind to say, you can have compassion after you punish yourself. That is how things move quickly out of suffering. It’s the ultimate life hack for happiness and living in unstuckness.

Self-compassion is what helps you turn your goals into a lifestyle instead of another defeat.

When you are compassionate with yourself you don’t quit when things go wrong. 

You get curious about why you made the choices you made, and then you find ways to adjust.

You don’t listen to the drama in your head, but rather you realize that life happens and your “failures” don’t bare weight on who you are as a person. 

This brings me back to self-love.

Love isn’t conditional. Not in its truest form. Not in the form that you MUST cultivate for yourself in order to achieve permanence in your lean and healthy body. 

We expect self-love to feel like romantic movies love. That impressive, joyful, happy to just to exist love, nothing can shake it love.

Instead, it looks like earned love.

Like my puppy peed on the carpet and I am mad, but I still love him love.

Like my teenager skipped school and I am FURIOUS but I still love him love.

Self love can be the sexy red lipstick and stilettos occasionally (goal setting, orgasms, yummy food, embodied movement), but more often it’s the same sweatpants for the third day in a row (ugh… enforcing my boundaries again, making my dentist appointment, mobility work). It doesn’t show up how you wish it would all of time, but you know it’s the most valuable thing you have.

When that compassion evolves to self-love, you not only lose the judgement, but you show up radically to attend to your needs. This is where the magic happens.

You begin to recognize the consequences of not doing that.

You see how neglecting the love for yourself manifests as emotional eating, binge eating, avoiding failure through inaction, quitting thing that are important to you, and not being able to fully be with the ones you have committed your time to.

When you love yourself, you see how your failures aren’t a problem, but rather a stepping stone. They still hurt, but they don’t stop you from being your best.

Reference *10.1016/j.appet.2019.104470

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