I went on a Self-Compassion workshop last Saturday, which at first seemed a bit too self-indulgent, but it turns out that we all need more of it in our lives.
We're Good at Being Kind to Others
You see, our brain is hard-wired to be kind and helpful to others: evolutionary psychology tells us that we need to be kind in order to be liked by our community, otherwise our life could be at risk (look at chimps for example).
However, our emotional brain gets caught up with striving, wanting, and pursuing goals, and we experience anxiety and frustration about not having achieved more, sooner. We forget to be kind to ourselves.
What has self-compassion got to do with skincare?
On doing research for my ecourse Love Your Look I bought several glossy magazines (Look, Cosmo, Woman & Home etc). I didn't want to. I had to.
Approximately 45% of the content is advertisement, no surprise there. But the rest of the magazine content is contradictory and frustrating. They promote Be a Better You: Beauty Special, Ageless Make-Up, they also feature a strong, sassy woman who loves her curvy body, alongside diet tips, ads for detox retreats, and impossible yoga poses.
There's one particular skincare brand that is in every magazine twice. The advert says 'love the age you are' which is a lovely message, a compassionate one. But it's followed by the words 'restorative, replenishes, lifts, look as young as you feel'. So actually their message is: I can only love my age if I look younger than my age. Tragic.
How to Be Kinder to Ourselves
Firstly, stay away from glossy magazines. They are more conducive to self-loathing than to self-love. Or if you do buy them, be aware of how mixed their message is.
Secondly, notice when you're having negative thoughts: comparing yourself to the woman in the advert, comparing your appearance to someone else's, thinking you look old for your age, wanting to look ten years younger. These are just some of mine. You'll have your own set of negative thoughts.
Thirdly, once you've noticed that negative thought you could try and intervene by acknowledging that you are berating yourself. Then accept that you are having this thought because it's normal in our society to want to look different, younger, and perfect. Then think of one thing that you can learn to appreciate about your appearance; maybe your lovely smile, maybe your beautiful eyes... just choose one. What would your friends say they like about the way you look?
This is an over-simplified version of how to be self-compassionate, but I hope it helps you to begin to be kinder to yourself. You deserve it.
Read more here...
Here's to being kinder to yourself this week