“There is nothing more rare nor more beautiful than a woman being unapologetically herself. Comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me , that is the essence of true beauty.” Dr. Steve Maraboli

There was a great video that circulated last week on regular women who were doctored up the way cover girls are tweaked. The women were chiseled and photo-shopped and ended up looking “beautiful” by the standards that our society applies. The best part about the video was that at the end, the women were not happy with their remade selves and were happy to revert to their more natural state.

Sadly, 50 % of North American women are plagued by body image concerns. We compare ourselves to super models and internalize the message that we should be like them. We starve ourselves to fit this unhealthy ideal and worship external beauty. We practice self shame and feel inadequate. We are kinder to others than we are to ourselves.

Self Compassion the solution

Most of us have a hard time accepting and loving who we are. When we look in the mirror most of us see our imperfections rather than our wonderful qualities. Culturally, we are not taught to show self appreciation and and self acceptance.

Cut yourself some slack.

According to Kristin Neff PH.d self compassion is actually associated with better health behaviors like exercising and eating healthfully. It also seems to provide motivation for change if exercise and diet are needed.
The emphasis being on health rather than self worth.

People who practice self compassion are less likely to overeat among those that have “blown” their diet.
Self compassionate women are also less likely to be depressed and show greater comfort with their bodies .

Most importantly, self compassion can be taught.
Practicing Buddhists have higher levels of self compassion than the general population.

Three tips for Self Compassion

1) Observe your self talk:
See how you feel when you look in the mirror and notice which of your thoughts are distortions .

2) Recognize that our attitudes , emotions and experiences shape our beliefs. So many of our childhood images are unconscious. Noticing their power over us is the first step to realizing how to change them.

3)Replace your old dialogue with new dialogue.
Make a list of your positive qualities and begin to accept and love who you are. The whole you, the complete being.