"You look a little down today, my boy," Dharma remarked. "I was expecting you to be much happier since you had a nice little get-away." "Sir", I replied." I was expecting to feel happier, too, but I ate too much and now I'm kicking myself. I'm down in the dumps because I allowed myself to get fat! My skin is wrinkly and, if that's not enough, I have all these bumps on my skin. I look absolutely terrible! What's happened to me?"
By now, the tea was ready and the muffins nicely warmed. I set the table and we sat down to eat our little meal. If I ever needed a lesson from Dharma, it was this morning. I was really feeling bad about myself. "Irwin," he said, "a wise frog speaks to himself like a cherished friend, with love, care, and respect. I hear how you're beating yourself up over these few unwanted pounds and the natural changes that occur with aging. Is that how you'd talk to me if I was feeling like this? Or to your best friend?" Absolutely not!" I shot back. "You know me better than that!" "Well, then, why do speak to yourself that way? Don't you like and respect yourself, Tadpole?" And so began my lesson for the week.
These days human women, and men, are encouraged to lose weight, buff up, shed wrinkles, and dye their grey hair...all in an effort to look younger. People are bombarded every day with images of "beautiful young things" on social media and are given many "opportunities" to compare themselves to others. In some cases, this need to be seen as thin and beautiful can lead to eating disorders which may be deadly. But there is lots of good news. Knowing how much I like good scientific evidence, Dharma tells me that some researchers are looking into new ways to counteract all these negative cultural messages and improve our own body images with self-compassion and increased self-love.
Self-compassion, I'm reminded, involves mindful awareness of our thoughts and feelings, coupled with kindness towards ourselves. It also involves recognition and acceptance of our flaws. Self-compassion, it turns out, is related to resilience and well-being. And it can be useful, researches have found, in combatting depression and anxiety. Three new studies have shown that self-compassion can help both women and men see their bodies in a more positive light.
This is such a weighty topic and Dharma's message was so important, that I'll be writing about it in two parts. Tomorrow, in the meat and bones of Dharma's lesson, we'll look at how self-compassion helps self-esteem, self-kindness for men and boys, and self-compassion versus social media. As always, Dharma's timing is perfect. I really needed this lesson now and, perhaps, if you're struggling a bit with your own self-image, it can help you, too.
I hope you'll hop back here tomorrow for Part 2. I can promise you, it'll be good.
Until then, I wish you peace.