We are often our own hardest critic. I know I am. It’s my Type-A, entrepreneurial spirit. But no matter what our nature or our career path, I think we tend to be harsh with ourselves in a way many of us would never treat anyone else we care for. We all need to give ourselves a little more self love.
In the past, I somewhat always thought this harshness was a motivator. Apparently, I respond to drill sergeant mode. Once upon a time that might have worked for me, but I’m attempting to be gentler with myself. Partly, I’m just getting tired with age (did I admit that?). Egging myself on is exhausting. Plus every year it seems to become more and more obvious that life is too short to waste time being curt with myself. I’ve even drastically reduced my road rage because I came to recognize I was the only one hot and bothered. The driver that would not let me merge was long gone.
That does not mean that I’m always successful. It is in my nature to push through without a nap and struggle with opting for a walk instead of working, even though I know and advocate that the walk will improve the work.
Last year in a six month period, I gained over twelve pounds. I blame it on Lyme Disease, SIBO, and being generally ill and run down. Whatever the cause, the sudden added weight wasn’t good and it wasn’t healthy. Once recovered it was weight I needed and wanted to take off. I’ve taken eight pounds off. And I’m trying to get comfortable here before devouring the rest. But I’ve taken a different tact with myself. Instead of harping at myself each time I eat something I shouldn’t (like the gluten-free chocolate chip cookie pie I just consumed), I’m praising myself for what I have done well. I haven’t over eaten all week. I stopped before I was full each time—a skill I’ve always struggled with. I got up early today to ride the bike which is not my normal routine. That was extra.
Once upon a time, I would have thought that treating myself with decency this way would enable me to crack and eat whatever I want. But that hasn’t happened. It’s been okay. I’ve lost more than half the weight and kept it off so far, without being perfect and without being harsh (most of the time). These are lessons I’m still learning. For years we have run a sugar-free challenge for the month of February. Two years ago, one of my clients, Stephanie Tishler of Tishler Coaching Services, suggest I make it a Mindful Eating Challenge so that people could pick what they wanted to do. It didn’t have to be about sugar. With that change, many more people did participate. Mindful eating isn’t as restrictive as a ban on a particular food item. The idea helped with our challenge and it’s also helped with my eating lately.
Even when I make a choice I wish I didn’t, I just take stock in it. I look for the balance. Did I eat healthier most of the week? If so, I’m good. If not, I need to get back on track a little bit. In being mindful, I noticed that I didn’t feel great after I had the chocolate chip cookie pie, so next time I see I’ll remember that and I won’t want it (I hope). Treating myself with kindness through the process hasn’t caused me to fail. In my Sargent mode, I notice all my failings, but don’t boost myself up for when I’m successful. In the gentle mode I recognize both. Both are important.
Sometimes we all require a little tough love. But sometimes we also just need a walk, a nap, and a pat on the back from ourselves.
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