A Call for More Post-Christmas Compassion

If we couldn't tell this little girl (me) she's fat and out of control, why do we think it's okay to talk that way to our current selves?

If we couldn't tell this little girl (me) she's fat and out of control, why do we think it's okay to talk that way to our current selves?

Happy Boxing Day! Today, you might be running around chasing deals, or having third turkey dinners with loved ones, or enjoying your newly unwrapped gifts. I’m sure that there are a number of you out there who are not so pleasantly looking back on all the goodies you consumed.

To that, I offer this strategy that I use on myself in times of abundant deliciousness when I’ve feel like I’ve overdone it. Find a picture of yourself (bonus points if it’s from the holidays), and imagine the little kid version of your cute self overdoing it at Christmas dinner. Maybe she ate one too many cookies or had sweets for lunch instead of a balanced meal. What would you say to her?

I have a feeling you’d offer a lot more compassion to your six-year-old self than you might to your current self. Even if your childhood self is chubby, I’m sure you see her as beautiful. At what age did things change, and our bodies become okay or not okay based on our weights? When did it become okay for us to beat ourselves up over what we’ve eaten?

If the idea of being kind to yourself when your gremlin is screaming at you about your fat thighs or your lack of self-control seems crazy, consider: How has beating yourself up worked for you in the past? I firmly believe that we cannot shame ourselves into lasting change or into a healthy relationship with our bodies, food, or exercise. Being hard on ourselves, over the long term, leaves us worse for the wear than putting in the effort it takes to be nice to ourselves even when we’re feeling like we’ve messed up. Every time we catch our thoughts drifting towards self-deprecation, we have an opportunity to be a little more compassionate.

Maybe we did eat too many cookies. If we tell ourselves that we have no self-control, the next time we're around treats we just might believe that voice and overdo it again. But if we take some responsibility for eating more than we might have liked, we aren't labelling ourselves as damaged. Maybe the next time we're around a bunch of goodies, we'll decide to eat a good lunch before a party so we aren't so tempted, or we'll remember the way our tummies hurt after we overdid it at Christmas. 

And just in case you forgot, here's an important reminder: You, the way you and your body are right now, deserve your kindness, and that includes your own. Now, go find those bargains--and be kind!