Last year I went on a diet because I was disgusted that I weighed around 5 kilos more than I should have. I lost the weight and felt proud and self-satisfied, and skinny. Then over Christmas I put it all back on again.
Now we’re in the beginning of January, and the subject of New Year’s Resolutions is all around us. It’s in our junk email boxes, our Facebook news feeds, in the conversations we’ve been having with friends and family, and on TV. So should I resolve to diet again? Should I commit to an exerci
se regime? Should I commit to learning that language or reading more books or being a better friend?
Strangely enough, after I gained the weight back, I didn’t feel the usual nagging self-hatred that usually haunts me after I fall off one wagon or another. For reasons I won’t go into here, I was distracted by bigger things and I just didn’t have enough space in my brain to berate me for eating too much Christmas cake. I just mentally shrugged and thought, “Stands to reason. You’ve had a lot on your plate. And you know what? You don’t look so bad.” It was exactly the sort of thing I’d say (and mean) to a close friend, but it wasn’t the sort of thing I often say to myself.
I really enjoyed feeling this way. And it turns out it’s a thing. I’ve been reading a little about a concept called Self-Compassion. It’s a really interesting idea and the proponents claim that it will help you feel more motivated, more connected to the world around you, and better able to cope with crises in your life. It’s the idea that you should accept that you’re human and therefore flawed, and that you should forgive yourself for your mistakes, nurture yourself during tough times and accept who you are. There’s more information here.
Practising self-kindness and self-compassion doesn’t mean you can’t go on a diet or exercise, but for me it will mean a little more of a relaxed approach to health. It will also mean that if I slip up I’ll try to forgive myself and move on.
I think it will be kind of nice.