A fast, easy, nutrition-rich, anti-aging breakfast: Plain Greek yogurt, blueberries, chopped almonds, green tea.

To thine own self be KIND

August 13th, 2014

aaaI am my own worst enemy.

I am my harshest critic.

Have you ever said this about yourself? I have. And I am. And have been kind of proud of it. No one is harder on me than me, I proclaim. I can never please myself, I say, kind of pleased with myself for saying so. I’ve long thought of this as keen-eyed self-judgment and realistic (if harsh) self-assessment, the antidote to all that saccharine love yourself just the way you are/ forgive yourself psychobabble.

Oh, wait. It’s not psychobabble? It’s self-compassion? And it’s actually a healthy (not to mention counterclockwise) trait to nurture? Oops. Will I ever be able to forgive myself for not knowing this?

Self-compassion means recognizing and acknowledging your humanness, which is to say your imperfections and failings, and instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for these inadequacies or shortcomings, being kind and understanding. Things will not always go the way you want them to. You will make mistakes, bump up against your limitations, fall short of your ideals. Guess what? That’s called being human.

In relatively trivial counterclockwise lifestyle terms, this means: So what if you read a great book all weekend instead of sweating at the gym? Are you the worst person on earth because you inhaled a slab of Metropole Bakery carrot cake (just sayin)? Forgot sunscreen? Didn’t drink your 8 glasses of water? Blahblahblah. The time and energy you spend beating yourself up about these “failings” can – that’s right — age you!

It turns out that people who are kind to themselves suffer less stress and anxiety, which translates into less cortisol circulating in their system. Cortisol (the “stress hormone”) increases blood sugar, suppresses the immune system, decreases bone formation and is implicated in systemic inflammation. All bad. People who are stressed and anxious also have higher blood pressure and faster heart rates. Not good. Self-kindness is an anti-aging strategy!

Take this self-compassion test online, and see how you do. I took it, and I came close to flunking. Then I berated myself for my low self-compassion score, thereby showing my lack of self-compassion. Which does have a lovely circularity to it and would make a great New Yorker cartoon. However. Now I shall quit yelling at myself and attempt to embrace my flawed humanity. Or at least my rotten test score.

Thanks to Colleen McKillip, loyal reader and recipient of a free Counterclockwise audiobook, for suggesting this topic. I have another free download to offer to the next reader with a good suggestion for an idea I’ve yet to tackle. Pitch it to me as a “comment” to this post.


2 Responses to “To thine own self be KIND”

  1. Pam on August 13, 2014 9:58 pm

    Lauren – Well there you go again. Right on point. Between the eyes. I think this gets right to the core of why so many folks don’t even BEGIN the journey to any kind of healthful habits because it feels so pathetic. A 20-minute walk seems pathetic. Horrifying, right? No use at all. If you CAN do that, then you SHOULD do a 45-minute jog/run, right? With a stretchy, cardio warm up and a stretchy, yogic cool down. By the time the NSA (Neurotic Self Assault) gets done with us, the only thing we need is a nap. Or how many times have you eaten something and then said, well, I’ve ruined the whole day. Good reminder, L. Thanks again.

  2. Lauren Kessler on August 16, 2014 4:42 pm

    NSA…I LOVE this. Well, actually, I hate it and fight it. But giving it a name helps.

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