We can all relate to the hardships that can often accompany striving towards a personal goal or desired transformation. Have you been trying to change your diet, but feel like you fail time and time again due to caving to powerful cravings? Have you been going to the gym regularly, but are disappointed in the lack of progress in your physique goals? Do you feel like you’re on an strenuous mountain hike, yet no matter how hard you push, the summit refuses to come into view?
When trying to reach your highest potential, its not uncommon to hear your inner critic getting louder. Instead of the inner voice serving as a positive cheerleader encouraging you along the way, you maybe victimizing yourself with constant criticizing and shaming for those moments you trip up or miss the mark.
We all know what this inner dialogue can sound like: “Ugh, why did you just eat that? You’re not getting anywhere. What is wrong with you? I’m not enough.”
Put down the bat and pick up a feather.
When we try to motivate ourselves with cruel mental prodding, it’s like beating ourselves up with a bat. In time, you’ll come to associate feelings of inadequacy and stress with your goals, leading to a slipperier slop of goal-avoidance to escape the pain of self-deprecation.
Using the bat is an obstacle to progress.
Would you stand by as your closest friend talked about him or herself with the same negative, discouraging self-talk you hear in your head? I know I wouldn’t. Then be your closest friend, pick up a feather and tell the inner-critic to back off and stop with all it’s bullying.
The feather allows us to build enthusiasm for our journey by celebrating our efforts and rewarding ourselves with kindness. For example, regardless of whether you’ve achieved your fitness gain goals or not, after each workout, thank yourself for showing up and putting in the work that day. This approach is like being driven by a carrot on a string, propelling you forward with affirming self-talk.
Cultivate and think positive, encouraging words when you make choices and take actions that are aligned with your goals.
Sometimes, you won’t quite hit the mark, like those moments you eat a food item you set intentions in eliminating from your diet or you crashed to apathy and excuses instead of rising early for your morning jog. Even in moments of “weakness,” you are deserving of your own compassion and care.
Be gentle with yourself. Practice patience. Give the same care, kindness and compassion you would give to your closest friend.
For many of us, our goals entail completely relearning and dissolving years of habits, cultural conditioning and limiting beliefs. Remember that progress in our individual journeys can often take time. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for transformation or success to happen overnight. Whether your goals are focused on diet, fitness, self-love, recovery, etc. know that you are embarking on a lifelong practice. While you may reap the joys of many immediate payoffs (and I hope you do! Use this as rocket-fuel to stay motivated in your pursuit!), sometimes the true depth of our growth is best known and experienced with time.
If you dive in with high hopes of big shifts on a short timeline, it’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t see the results you want- as quickly as you want to see them.
You have a choice in which path to take:
- Attempting to achieve your goals with the absence of encouraging, kind and loving words to yourself — leading to feeling discouraged and inadequate with a higher risk of giving up completely.
~ OR ~
- Practicing patience and compassion while finding the simple joys in each step you take towards revealing your highest self– the loving, fulfilled being that already dwells within you.
Be compassionate with yourself each step of the way. This lifelong journey of self-discovery and evolution is a joy, not a burden. Enjoy it. Embody the love and kindness we all so desperately need more of in the world.
It begins with you.