By: Sylvia Anderson
"I didn't get enough done today; I failed."
"I'm not good at relationships. I'll probably be alone forever."
"I'm not good enough for love. No one will want me."
These attitudes aren't just societal; they actually stem from changes due to the evolutionary process. Opposed to the immediate dangers your ancestors faced (fleeing from a bear, or surviving the Great Depression), the dangers of today are more psychological. And, most often, you put them on yourself.
According to Certified Holistic Health Counselor, Alexandra Jamieson, those types of thoughts and negative self-talk work worst against you when it comes to two huge concerns in people's lives: romance/relationships and overall health.
Jamieson says that you have to overcome the negativity in order to keep building your own personal resilience. One way to do that is via positive psychology, which hones in on what's right with you, rather than trying to fix what's wrong with you.
An even more intricate part of positive psychology is self-compassion, which is strongly associated with mental health.
Self-compassion brings about more happiness, less anxiety, more optimism, and more motivation to try and learn new things. It's the new way to look at weight loss, healing, or dating and involves loving who you are, and being kinder and gentler with yourself rather than criticizing yourself. Self-criticism and beating yourself up in order to get motivated to "do better" just doesn't work.
This new-found self-compassion also helps you to love and appreciate your body. If you're kind to her ("her" rather than "it"), she will be kind to you in return. It's similar to raising a child. When you give kids love and healthy parameters, they will flourish and grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted adults. Your own self deserves the same attention and energy.
In terms of romance and relationships, if you constantly have the negative self-talk of, "I'm fat" or "I'm a terrible person" or "I have problems," you're probably not going to choose the best partner for a healthy relationship; or, it may keep you from dating or from trying to meet someone new.
Or, it may place you in a compromised power position in that relationship, where you let someone walk all over you, take advantage of you, or potentially abuse you to a degree (whether physically or emotionally).
What are some tips for bolstering self-compassion?
Jamieson suggests looking around at the people in your life. Who are the friends, colleagues, acquaintances, or partners who are demonstrating positive relationships with their own bodies, or who have a positive attitude towards relationships in general? There's a theory that says you "are" the five people you hang out with most. You mirror the people around you, and it's been proven by science. Your "mirror neurons" mimic and adopt habits of those individuals who you're in constant contact with.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you hanging out with people who constantly complain about their looks or who have an unhealthy relationship with food?
- Are you friends with people who have a terrible relationship pattern; who bad-mouth their spouses all the time?
Take note if those relationships are helping you or hindering you. Most likely, when the hard truth is told, they are hindering you.
If you're already in a relationship, don't be afraid to ask your partner for support.
And, become aware of what you DO want and be clear of what makes you happy. Not in terms of things or food or possessions, but rather experiences.
Jamieson's final piece of advice is to always frame things in the positive: what you DO want (I love eating healthy foods), not what you don't want (I don't want to eat sugar anymore).
The world doesn't have to be a sad, tragic place where freedom from struggle and despair seems an impossibility. With enough self-compassion and self-love, you can turn things around (and do so quite quickly).
In the accompanying audio segment, Alexandria Jamieson joins Naturally Savvy hosts, Andrea Donsky and Lisa Davis, to explain what positive psychology is, how it can help you in relationships and romance, and why self-compassion is so necessary in our world today.