Atlanta psychotherapist, Sarah Pannell, LMFT discusses the ways in which mindfulness can be used as tool in helping people to heal, and how it’s a practice, not about perfection.
I know there have often been weekends where I promised myself, “I’ll start over on Monday,” or “Monday I’ll get my act together.” Anyone else ever find themselves doing this?
If you do, I offer you lots and lots of compassion. The “do better tomorrow” mindset is endemic in our culture. It breeds a feeling of “never enough” and it’s hard. And it’s a major trigger for self-criticism and judgment- trying to shame ourselves into doing “better.” And it doesn’t work. Self-compassion invites us to be kind to ourselves exactly where we are.
Am I saying “never change” or “don’t purse growth”? Of course not.
I believe in our capacity to grow, to do hard things- I just believe it’s best done with self-compassion as our guide. I believe it’s best when we work WITH our bodies and our WHOLE selves- when we trust our inner wisdom. And I know this is really hard, especially when you’re struggling with issues related to perfectionism, body image concerns, disordered eating or self-acceptance.
As you are able, try not to manipulate or override your body’s cues or silence parts of yourself that may be scared or struggling. With as much kindness as possible, just listen and be with whatever is coming up for you. Our bodies are actually wonderful allies in our healing journey. I believe all those voices inside us (even the inner critic) are good parts of us, though their means may not be helpful but often their intentions and the needs they reveal are good. Self-compassion allows us to see this. Self-compassion allows us to reconnect with our bodies and our whole selves. It says- “this is hard and it’s okay to be where we are, it’s okay not to have all the answers, and maybe this is one small step we can take today to care for us. Let’s try this and if it’s a bust, that’s okay, too.”
And if this is hard for you, it’s okay to reach out for support. If you are struggling with food or your body- be it an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder), struggles with body image or chronic dieting- or if you’re struggling due to a history of trauma or struggles with anxiety or perfectionism…these are not easy to face alone. I’d love to support you in the process.