Every one of us has goals. Whether it is to lose weight, exercise more, reduce job stress, or enjoy life, each one of us attempts to achieve our goal on a daily basis. Being human, we experience a variety of feelings along the way: feelings of anger when we are thwarted, sadness when our desired outcome feels too far away, and joy during inspiring moments of success.
Lately, in my work to help others create a positive lifestyle change, I’ve notice a common feeling among my clients: self-criticalness. Sometimes it appears at the start of their journey, whispering doubts and negatively labeling any efforts to begin. Other times, it rears it’s ugly, destructive head while a client is close to reaching a goal, screaming to them that any miss-step will surely mean certain death of success. Self-criticalness, judgment, perfectionism…call it what you want but know this: It’s LYING to you and you don’t need it.
Kelly McGonigal, PhD, in her audio learning course Neuroscience for Change (http://kellymcgonigal.com), says we feel the need to be critical of ourselves, lest we stop for a moment and never start up again. Makes sense, if you think about it. We all have parents (who are human too) and at some point in our childhood we probably weren’t listening to instructions and thus, our behavior was criticized. Our parents, just like their parents, were doing their best to shape and mold us into healthy, happy adults. Unfortunately, we adapted that voice and used it to self-motivate. Except here’s the thing, telling ourselves that we’re not doing the right thing doesn’t work. Calling ourselves negative names like “stupid” or “lazy” only makes us feel worse, less motivated to change, and more motivated to seek out behaviors that comfort us or help us avoid our lives.
So how do you reach your goals without being self-critical? Start by being self-compassionate. Whoooa—does this approach sound scary?! Does the idea of allowing yourself to make mistakes and then offering yourself forgiveness freak you out? (I mean, how can a person achieve anything if they’re always patted on the back, told they are unconditionally loved and accepted, and sent on their merry way? That’s not how things are done!) Wrong. Research shows that people who are compassionate towards themselves while in the pursuit of a goal have a higher rate of success. They are more resilient to failures along the way and don’t take it personally. Optimism and other positive emotions are even shown to have a positive influence on cardiovascular health.
So there you have it. Bid farewell to self-criticalness and judgment. Explore being compassionate towards yourself. It will influence your mind, your body, and your goals.
Take care and self care,
Jessica, BeYOUtiful Minds & Fitness Owner