Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Often we don’t pay attention to how we treat ourselves. Yet doing so can help you see where you need work in building self-love. With Self-Love Month almost here, I’m happy to have Jean Fain, L.I.C.S.W., M.S.W., a Harvard Medical School-affiliated psychotherapist specializing in eating issues, and author of The Self-Compassion Diet: A Step-by-Step Program to Lose Weight with Loving-Kindness back as my guest today. Below Jean shares a quiz to help you see how kind you are to you and offers insight into your answers.

How Kind Are You To You?
By Jean Fain

To find out how kind to yourself you are, read the statements here and fill in the blanks with whatever comes to mind first. This quiz is for your eyes only, so be as honest as possible.

1) After indulging in a second slice of cheesecake at a party, I tell myself…

2) When my boss asks to speak with me, I’m almost certain that…

3) When I lose my temper with someone I love—my significant other, my child, my mother—I find myself thinking…

4) When friends ask me to pick the restaurant for girls’ night out and then dislike the food, I think…

5) When I try on a new bathing suit and look in the dressing room mirror, my first thought is…

6) If I do something silly in front of someone I’m trying to impress, I say to myself…

7) When a good friend criticizes what I consider one of my worst flaws, I think…

Now look at each statement and notice anything you wrote that’s self-critical. If you get stuck deciding whether something is critical, imagine a friend saying it to herself—would you tell her she’s beating up on herself? Three or fewer self-critical responses show that you treat yourself with care and concern. If your answers skew negative—four or more are self-critical—you’re low on self-compassion. Here are three tips to give it a boost:

Challenge Negative Thoughts Interrogating your self-criticism can stop it from ballooning. When you think, “I’ll never fit into my skinny jeans again” after eating a cupcake, ask, “Is that really true?” Your instinctive answer might be yes, but keep pushing—”Does one cupcake really mean that I have zero chance of losing weight?” Self-critical thoughts can be stubborn—some of them may be hard to recast at first, but any crack in absolutism encourages perspective.

Channel Your Compassion Adviser Think of someone who embodies kindness and empathy, whether it’s Mother Teresa or the aunt who always brought you chicken soup when you were sick. Unload your critical thoughts to this person—aloud. Now imagine you are that empathetic person—how would you respond? Say those words as well.

Write It Out If an event triggers a serious bout of self-criticism, write down the fears and concerns that have been stirred up. According to a University of Texas researcher, writing is not only a great way to ease emotional distress but also a proven method for bolstering a positive outlook. An added bonus: Writing out your troubles may allow you to recognize—and prepare for—the situations that provoke your harshest inner critic.

Join The Self-Love Movement! Take the 31 Days of Self-Love Commitment and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at Read my 31 Days of Self-Love Posts HERE.

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