In this episode of Eat the Rules, I’m continuing the body image series, breaking down 5 reasons we struggle with self-compassion and how to overcome them.
I also talk about why self-compassion is fundamental to healing your relationship with your body.
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This episode of eat the rules is brought to you by you on fire you on fire is the online group coaching program that I run that gives you a step by step way of building up your self worth beyond your appearance. With personalized coaching from me incredible community support and lifetime access to the program so that you can get free from body shame and live life on your own terms. Get details on what’s included and sign up for the next cycle at summer innanen.com forward slash you on fire. I’d love to have you in that group. This is eat the rules, a podcast about body image self worth, anti dieting, and intersectional feminism. I am your host summer Innanen. a professionally trained coach specializing in body image self worth and confidence and the best selling author of body image remix. If you’re ready to break free of societal standards and stop living behind the number on your scale, then you have come to the right place. Welcome to the show.
This is episode 263. It’s another segment of the body image series. And I’m talking about five reasons we struggle with self compassion. Self Compassion is one of the most important things that we need to learn in order to heal the relationship with our body and build up unshakable self worth. And it’s really common for people to struggle with that. So we’re going to be breaking down those five reasons why we really struggle. In today’s episode, you can find the show notes at summer innanen.com forward slash 263. I want to give a shout out to sea fowl that left this review I started listening to eat the rules last year and it truly is my favorite podcast. I’ve especially loved the movement series, which is something I have struggled with in the past. There are so many yes moments when I’m listening. And I sometimes find and laughing out loud. As summer has a great sense of humor. The content of the podcast is just so helpful. Please keep up the amazing work. Thank you so much. That’s so kind of you love that review. And yes, there is the movement series of the podcast, I can link to where those episodes begin in the show notes. But if you’re curious, it’s episodes 205 through two episode 211. If you want to hear a whole bunch of experts as well as myself talking about how to heal your relationship with movement. All right, you can leave a review for the show by going to Apple podcasts search for eat the rules, then click ratings and reviews and click to leave a review or give it a rating. A review is always appreciated, and I will at some point read it on air. You can also get some free stuff from me you can grab the free 10 Day body confidence makeover at summer innanen.com forward slash freebies with 10 steps to take right now to feel better in your body. And if you are a professional who works with people who may also have body image struggles, get the free body image coaching roadmap at summer innanen.com forward slash roadmap. All right, another episode of the body image series. This is the last one in this little segment. I think we’ve done five episodes, I think four, five, I don’t even know I lose track. But we’ve talked about how to evaluate your body image some examples of body neutrality, why you may feel stuck accepting your body ways that we bring perfectionism into body acceptance. And today I want to talk about why self compassion is so difficult. So yeah, that’s five episodes Wow, good for me. I’m proud of myself for doing that. It’s a lot of work to put these together. So self compassion is one of the foundational pieces of work that I do when I’m working with clients. It really falls under the category of like rewiring your brain. I have a framework that I use when I work with people. And I would say self compassion shows up in a few of the different pillars of that framework. But the big one that it shows up in is is rewire your brain. And this is because a negative body image is really dictated by the negative thoughts and the negative feelings that we have about our body. And in order to change those negative thoughts and feelings. We have to unlearn what we’ve been taught about our bodies, and we need to process the feelings we have around our current body. So if we’re feeling shame in our current body or if we feel sadness in our current body, we need to be able to process those feelings and learn to speak to ourselves and treat ourselves in a way that honors and celebrates who we are Maybe even grows to appreciate aspects of our body, you don’t have to do that I really aim as a first step just to get to a place where you feel neutral in your body. So you’re not thinking about it, or feeling those negative feelings anymore. But in order to do that, we have to learn how to be compassionate with ourselves. And I want to just connect the dots on something here, you’ve probably heard me talk about this many, many times. But body image issues are really more of a self worth issue. Because when we think negatively about our body, we’re thinking negatively about our whole selves. And if we’re not doing that, then we don’t really have a body image issue. And you probably wouldn’t be listening to this podcast, or maybe you’re a professional listening to this. And that’s cool, too. But we’ve learned that our appearance defines how we value ourselves. And in order to really heal body image issues, we have to go to the core of it and the root of it, which is our sense of self worth. So that we can detach it from how we look, or, and how we perceive how we look. And self worth is really about knowing who we are. And on top of that, knowing that who we are as valuable and worthy. And so in order to know that we are valuable and worthy, we have to be reinforcing that through the way we speak to ourselves as way as well as through our actions in terms of the way that we treat ourselves. So for example, if you know you push through an injury to work out, like that’s not very compassionate, right, we’re not really showing ourselves that were valuable and worthy in that sort of instance. And so that’s where self compassion shows up. It’s also in how like the actions that we take and how we treat ourselves. And so that’s where self compassion comes into play, right? It’s really like a fundamental piece of building up our sense of self worth beyond how we look. And it’s about having kindness and care and understanding for ourselves. In the moment, it’s like the way that we would respond to a good friend or a child if they were struggling. I notice so many people struggle with this, though they struggle with self compassion. And there’s a few reasons why I’m going to break down five of those reasons why this might be happening to you. And I just want to say that these are really common, I’ve seen this over and over. And there are ways to work around these. The reason number one is that it was never given to us. So if you were a child that didn’t receive words of compassion, or words of comfort from your caregivers, then it may feel more foreign, or uncomfortable to give it to yourself. And I really see this with people who maybe experienced a lot of trauma, when they were a child and their caregivers weren’t there to protect them, and didn’t speak kindly to them. And I also see this just in, in if the way that you were your emotions were responded to when you were a child. So for example, if you were told You’re too sensitive, stop crying, then you may feel uncomfortable feeling sadness, or you might think that you’re too much. And therefore, offering yourself compassion, when you do feel sadness come up feels really difficult, because you’re just like, I’m not allowed to feel sad, or I push it away. So there’s a lot of different examples like that. Another one would be, let’s say your emotions were dismissed, or ignored, or you were met with shame when you struggled or needed help, then you may struggle to find kindness for yourself, because it’s easier to ignore or push away feelings. And so depending on what those messages that we, you know, internalized, when we were young as a result of what we felt and what we heard from our caregivers, then we may really struggle to give ourselves compassion, and maybe it wasn’t role modeled, either. So maybe your your parents weren’t compassionate with themselves. Maybe your mother was always really critical of herself or, and, and therefore maybe even really critical of you. And therefore we just don’t even know how to give ourselves grace and care and compassion. And if you experience this, you’re not alone. It might be more challenging, we might have to start like really small. But this is all the more reason to learn it to in order to give it to yourself. And that brings me to my next point. One of the reasons why we really struggle with self compassion is because we’re not practicing it. It’s really like a muscle that needs to be used. And when we neglect it feels harder to access. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to do like a movement for physiotherapy or something like often physiotherapist sort of give you these like, really small kind of micro movements to work some of the little muscles in your body. And you have to be really intentional about you know, doing it correctly in the form and it takes a lot of mental effort. And it feels really difficult, right? And it’s like that with compassion. If we’re not used to it. It feels we have to To really be intentional with it, we have to really kind of think about it. But the more that you do it, then the more subconscious it becomes. So the more like, for example, the more that you do your physio movements, the less muscle soreness you have when you do it, and the easier it becomes. And the less you sort of have to like, really think about the form and what you’re doing. And so that’s similar to self compassion. If we do it intentionally, and we do it regularly, then it becomes much easier. But if we’re not practicing it, if we’re just like trying to pull it out of a hat every once in a while, then yeah, it’s going to be really difficult, it’s going to feel really hard to access. And we have to remember that this is really because our brain really likes negative thoughts. Negative thoughts stick like Velcro and positive or like Teflon. That is a quote that came from a book I read so many years ago called The Buddha’s Brain, which I don’t remember if it was like fat phobic or not. So I can’t 100% vouch that there aren’t any kind of diety references or anything in it. I don’t think there were but it was, like 10 years ago that I read it. So anyways, but that one quote has always stuck with me. Negative thoughts stick like Velcro positive, or like Teflon, meaning they just slide right off. And so if we’re trying to work up against these negative thoughts, we really need to be practicing self compassion quite often. And that doesn’t take a lot of effort. It’s really just about learning how to respond to ourselves in the moment, and looking at how our actions are aligning to that belief system that’s really going to support that we’re worthy and valuable. The third reason we struggle with self compassion is if our nervous system is fired up. So it’s really hard to access self compassion when we’re in a state of stress. So if you think about being in a stressful situation, if you have kids, you’ll be able to relate to this, maybe you’re running really late for work, and your child is giving you a hard time and won’t let you leave the house. And you start to just get super frustrated, and you maybe snap at them a bit like you’re just like, I need to go to work like don’t you understand, and maybe you most likely don’t want to respond to them that way. Because that’s not necessarily effective. But that’s just what’s coming up in the moment like, because it’s really hard to access compassion for ourselves and others. When we’re in a state of stress. If you don’t have kids think about it this way, let’s say you’re trying to get work done for a deadline, and your boss comes around and is like you’re doing this wrong, or I need you to do these five other things before you go home to me. And you might feel you know, anger or frustration bubbling up and you might, you know, snap at them a bit. Or you might, you know, even criticize yourself like God, what’s wrong with me? Why am I so slow with this, like, it’s really hard to be compassionate with ourselves when we’re in a state of stress. So when our nervous system guy gets fired up, it’s just that much harder. And, and so it’s the same thing, when we’re trying to respond to ourselves with compassion as it relates to our body image. So if we’ve been having, like a tough time with our body image, and then we put on a pair of jeans that we love, and they don’t fit anymore, we might go into this state of panic, we might go into this huge stress response. And so if you’re thinking to yourself, like I need to be compassionate with myself, I need to be compassionate with myself like, it’s going to be nearly impossible. When we’re feeling any kind of big emotions, like panic or disgust or shame about our body, it just almost blocks that ability to be compassionate with ourselves. What we need to do first is defuse that emotion and calm our nervous system, we need to slow ourselves down, we need to look for a way to deactivate our nervous system before we can truly tap into that compassionate voice within us. The fourth reason we struggle with self compassion is because I find often we’re trying to give ourselves a pep talk. And self compassion is not a pep talk. It’s about finding authentic words of comfort. And this is where a lot of people get tripped up. Because if I were to say to you, what’s something compassionate, you can offer yourself right now, it often comes in the way of a phrase like I’m more than a body, or I know my body’s good, just as it is. And maybe that feels authentic to you. Great if it does, but for a lot of people, it just does not feel authentic, because self compassion needs to make space for what we’re actually feeling. And sometimes that means we’re feeling crappy feelings, versus trying to slap a positive over it. And it needs to be authentic. It needs to be words that really cut deep and resonate to our core. And there are a lot of ways that we can do that. I have a lot of different tools that I use when I’m working with clients to find that authentic, compassionate voice for them, because it’s different for everybody, especially depending on the experiences that you’ve had, as it relates to how compassion was given to you. The final reason we struggle with self compassion is we don’t think we’re worried Do you have it? A lot of times, we don’t think we deserve it. And this is especially true if we have a really dominant inner critic voice. So if we have that inner critic voice that tells us, you know, you should know better by now, you should really get yourself under control, mean perfectionist Control Freak voice in our head. If we have a dominant inner critic voice, then it’s giving ourselves kindness and care through self compassion, it almost feels like we’ll lose control, like it’s a threat to your inner critic. And because it feels vulnerable. And our inner critic does not like vulnerability, it often gets louder in moments of vulnerability. So for example, if you’re really struggling with body shame, it might feel too vulnerable to ask for help. Or it might feel too vulnerable to actually let yourself cry. And your inner critic might say things like, you need to figure this out on your own, or you need to just suck it up. Or even worse, it might tell you, you just need to die it, we just need a diet, and then these tough feelings will go away. So I feel like that one might resonate with a lot of you, right? Struggling with body shame, inner critic comes in tells you dieting is the solution. That’s because we’re just feeling really vulnerable. And it feels like very threatening to be in that situation. And so tying it back to self compassion, we, it’s just really hard to access it in those moments, because we just don’t feel like we’re worthy of it. Because our inner critic is like, no, no, no, no, no, we just need to fix this, we need to fix these feelings, they’re too much they’re too vulnerable. And again, that can come from if you were a kid, and we’re told your emotions are too much. Or if you’re a highly sensitive person, and you feel like your emotions are too much, because they do feel like they’re too much. And what we need to do is find small ways to try and give ourselves compassion to send the message to our brain that we are worthy of it, because we can’t actually believe are worthy of it until we give it to ourselves. It’s kind of like a, you know, a double edged sword, or what’s the word, I’m looking for a snake eating its head, I don’t know, the point is, if we don’t give ourselves compassion, then we continue to believe we’re not worthy of it. In order to break out of that pattern, we actually have to give ourselves compassion to believe we’re worthy of it, and you are really deserving of it, you’re deserving of kindness and care, of course you are, if you want to have a positive relationship with yourself, you have to give yourself that you give it to other people who you love, you need it for yourself, too. And so all of these struggles are quite common, have seen them over and over. And there are ways to work around them to make self compassion easier, and more of a reflexive response versus something that like takes a lot of thought and a lot of effort becomes more subconscious over time. And when we do that, it goes such a long way. Nobody can really change that internal dialogue. And that’s when I hear people say, like, you know, I, I’m able to respond to those negative thoughts, like just so much faster, I’m able to just like shut it down, I have a lot more space in my head. Now, I’m able to just be really kind to myself and show up with compassion. And the end result of that is really just a sense of peace and freedom in our body, which is amazing. And so I do a ton of self compassion, work with clients to help them find ways to access that that are authentic, and really take actions that are aligned with this belief that they matter. So if you feel like you’re struggling with this, and it’s always a good idea to get some support, because, gosh, we cannot see the forest through the trees like I for myself, that’s why I see a therapist because I can not see the forest through the trees. I need someone to like shine that flashlight and be like here is the way and that’s what I do as a coach too. So definitely get support if you need it. And I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, you can find the links and resources mentioned in the show notes at summer innanen.com. Forward slash 263. Thank you so much for listening. I’m gonna be back with some incredible interviews to close out the rest of the season over the next couple of months. Thanks for being here today. Rock on.
I’m Summer Innanen. And I want to thank you for listening today. You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook at summer Innanen. And if you haven’t yet, go to Apple podcasts search eat the rules and subscribe rate and review this show. I would be so grateful. Until next time, rock on.
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