Love, Me

Stop the negative chatter in your head. There are kinder (and smarter) ways to motivate yourself.
Published February 4, 2016

What makes you feel better: compliments or criticism? The answer is obvious. So why do we seem to have no problem berating ourselves? We’d never talk like that to a friend. Maybe we think going negative can spur us to achieve our goals, but the opposite is true: self-compassion can help you stick to healthy actions that pay off at the scale.

Studies have shown that when you practice self-compassion and take your successes and failures in stride you may find yourself less afraid of failure and more satisfied with life.1 This can lead to success in your weight loss journey. People who practice self-compassion are more likely to eat well, take good care of themselves and maintain their weight loss.2,3

So how do you learn to like yourself more? The same way you make friends with anyone else: Take the time to get acquainted; be supportive and non-judgmental. Above all, look for the good. A good way to jump in is with this fun fill-in exercise.

Try the seven suggestions below:

1. Make a list of your positive qualities.
Read your list often. It could include anything from being a good piano player to being a loving parent. List every attribute that makes you a worthwhile, likable individual.

2. Pay yourself a compliment every day.
Focus on a different attribute—quick hands, good fashion sense, killer poker skills—and say out loud: "I love my ___." It may sound silly at first, but it can be a useful counter to self-doubt.

3. Do things you know will help you feel better about yourself.
This could be anything from getting a new hairstyle to rearranging your fridge for healthy eating. Tackle the easiest first, to build confidence in future efforts.  

4. Give yourself regular non-food treats.
Buy yourself a cool new app, take a spontaneous day trip. You'd do these things to make loved ones feel good, so why not yourself?

5. Spend time with those who care about you. 
You’ll soon share their good opinion of you! If there aren't as many supportive people in your social circle as you'd like, consider ways of expanding it to increase your chances of positive feedback. Ask yourself: "Who will help me feel good about myself?" 

6. Avoid situations that keep you in a state of self-doubt. 
Even long-term relationships might call for a clear-eyed reappraisal, if they leave you feeling bad. Perhaps there's a critical relative or colleague who always seems to undermine you. Are you forever seeking someone's approval but never getting it? Rather than simply taking the criticism, you could:

  • Retreat from the relationship a bit.
  • Stop hoping for approval.
  • Respond more assertively to harsh remarks.

7. Try a little kindness. 
Instead of beating yourself up whenever you slip, give yourself the benefit of the doubt, same as you would anyone else. Focus on your achievements, not faults. Chances are, once you start looking, you'll be surprised at just how many there are.

1 Neff KD, Kirkpatrick KL, Rude SS. An examination of self-compassion in relation to positive psychological functioning and personality traits.
2 Phillips ML, et al. Self-compassionate reactions to health threats. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 2013;39(7):911-926.
3 Mantzios M, Wilson JC. Exploring mindfulness and mindfulness with self-compassion-centered interventions to assist weight loss: Theoretical