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Nurturing the New You

February 16, 2012

This month I have been thinking a lot about New Year’s Resolutions and why they fail.  We start off with the best intentions but by the end of the year, only about 10% of them will be kept.  One of the reasons I have found that the success rate is so low is because many of us take an all or nothing approach to achieving them.  We expect perfection from ourselves and one bad day has a way of turning into another because of this mindset.
When we slip, our immediate reaction is to chastise and berate ourselves because we somehow believe that this will help get us back on track.  However, this might be the worst thing we can do.
There was a great article in Yoga Journal magazine called The Key to Letting Go of Bad Habits that really altered the way I think about making real lasting life changes.  In the article, they talk about what happens the first time we slip and our inner critic chimes in to “motivate” us.  See if this sounds familiar:
“You suck.  I mean, how hard is it to get off your ass, turn on the Wii, and put in a disc.  It’s not like you have to go to the gym.  It’s not like you have to go out in the cold.  You couldn’t have made this any easier for yourself and you still can’t do it.  You are fat and unhealthy and that is never going to change because you are too lazy to be anything different. What is wrong with you? You don’t deserve to be thin if you aren’t willing to do ANYTHING to change it.  Might as well go get those chips you want so much, I mean, what’s another 12,000 calories at this point.”
Your inner voice might sound a little different, but you get the gist of it.  Now read that again, but  instead of a voice inside your head, imagine that someone else is saying it out loud to you.  How would you feel?  Would you be motivated?  Would you be inspired?  Or would you feel like curling up in your chair under a blanket and eating an entire bag of chips?
Now read it again and imagine you are saying it to someone else like your spouse, your sister, your friend, or your child.  If the thought upsets you as much as it upsets me, you need to ask yourself why it’s ok to talk to yourself that way if it is horrifying to imagine talking that way to someone else.
Take a couple breaths and let that one sink it.
Why isn’t it acceptable to berate, chastite, demean, and humiliate someone else if it’s ok to do those things to yourself?
Now think about the best teacher, coach, boss, or friend you ever had.  Someone who was always your biggest fan, who saw you for everything you were and motivated you to be more, someone who was an inspiration and challenged you to  challenge yourself.  Did that person cheer you on by cutting you down?  Did they motivate you by telling you there was something wrong with you?  Did they inspire you by making you feel worthless?
Of course not.  
The key to self discipline isn’t becoming your own personal drill sergeant, it’s becoming your own personal cheering squad.  The next time you catch yourself reaching for chocolate instead of carrots or blowing off the gym to watch Being Human, make sure the voice in your head  remembers that you are human and treats you as well as you would treat someone else you love if they were simply being human too.
Turning Leaf Life Coaching offers coaching for ADHD and Life Transitions over the phone and in person throughout NH, ME, MA, and VT.  For more information, go to www.turningleafcoaching.com.
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