Friends at YWM 2023 Engage

YWM Engage: Kindness, Especially to Yourself, Matters

A good friend often reminds us about the importance of kindness, and of course, she is right. The world offers us too little kindness too often and we make it better when we add the warmth of kindness to the corner of the world we share. But our friend Gary Foster took it a bit further in a compelling presentation yesterday at YWM Engage. He was talking about the importance of mindset for our mental and physical health, for successful weight management. Most memorably, he focused in on the importance of kindness to ourselves:

“Don’t confuse this with selfishness or self-indulgence. Self-compassion makes us better able to be compassionate toward others and care for them. There’s nothing selfish about it.”

Three Elements of Self-Compassion

Foster described three essential elements of self-compassion, drawing upon the work of Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer. First of all it’s about kindness toward yourself, especially when things are not going well. It requires recognizing our common humanity – setbacks and and disappointments are experiences every living person has. It is essential to being human. Finally, he said we need mindfulness to accept our experiences for what the are, when they happen, without judgment.

Essential for Overcoming Self-Stigma

Another important point we take from Foster’s presentation is the importance of self-compassion for overcoming self-stigma. Without self-compassion, it can be nearly impossible to overcome self-stigma and self-stigma eats away at our mental and physical health. It gets in the way of coping successfully with obesity.

So self-compassion is a life skill we can all learn and improve upon. Clinicians can help us with this goal. Our friend Skip is right. We all need a bit more kindness and a good start for sharing that kindness is to direct some of it toward ourselves. It multiplies.

Click here for Foster’s presentation at YWM Engage, here, here, and here for more on kindness and self-compassion.

Friends at YWM 2023 Engage, image courtesy of Stacy Wright

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September 24, 2023