Let’s admit it, being kind to ourselves is not something that most of us know how to do. Most of us know how to be kind to others and practice that every day during everyday activities. We may go out of our way to help someone in need or send a friend a quick text because we are thinking of them, or even buy the person behind us in the drive-thru their cup of coffee. All of these are wonderful, and the world definitely needs more of this…but what kind gestures have you made towards yourself lately?
Learning how to be kind to myself was a journey that was forced upon me 7 years ago. I had been in a significant car accident, caused by someone else’s carelessness and my long recovery required me to really take a step back and look at the pressures I put on myself every day! I was NOT kind to myself. I placed SO many expectations on my shoulders, and of course, because I am such an A-type personality, those expectations were always substantial. With a great deal of help and understanding from family and friends, I learned some very important skills that to this very day, I keep front and centre in my mind and daily practices.
This time of year tends to innately place added pressure on ourselves, not to mention the current state of our world that just seems to add a whole new dimension to everyday pressures. The beginning of this new year is not like any other we have experienced before, but I am sure that most of you, just like me, have set some sort of goal or resolution for the year ahead. This is good news, and exciting, as every one of us ought to have things to strive for, and search for ways that we can better ourselves. We were born to be creative and extend ourselves outside of the ‘box’. Those moments where we initiate change within ourselves is when our greatest growth occurs.
This growth process is never easy…change is never easy! In about 2-to-3 weeks, the beginning of February is when the ‘experts’ say that 80% of people who have set new year resolutions, will have failed them. This statistic alone would be enough to never set yourself a new goal ever again. So not only are we feeling like a failure before we even got started, but this belief that we can’t achieve self-improvement and progress without great struggle is something I would like to readjust our thinking on.
How many times in a day do you use the word ‘should’? Let’s put this in a sentence and see if any of these resonate with you:
“I should be exercising more.”
“I should be making it out to the barn more often during the week.”
“I should be eating healthier.”
Or how about this, with a slight grammatical change:
“I shouldn’t have had that donut.”
I am sure while reading this you could add a few more ‘shoulds’ or ‘shouldn’ts’ to the list, ones that you have been saying to yourself. I am suggesting that all of us STOP ‘shoulding’! When you use ‘should’ in a sentence it immediately implies that you have failed. The tone in any sentence where ‘should’ is used has a sound of pressure, or stress and the energy in your voice, aligns with the look on your face, and feeling in your heart, that you have let yourself down. We need to stop beating ourselves up and rein-in our use of the word ‘should’. Instead of using the word of which we will no longer speak of lol, let's focus on what we want, and go from there.
By no means am I suggesting that if you have set some goals for yourself, that you give yourself permission to let up, and ‘take it easy’. If you are currently kicking ass…then keep going, and kudos to you!! Achieving great things takes hard work, consistency and depending on how big your goals are…an unrelenting focus and effort. If you ask anybody who has achieved a big goal, they will tell you about how hard it was to do what they did, But they will also tell you that it was worth it and because they wanted it so badly, that they got it done.
What do you want? When do you want it? What do you have to do to get it?
The key word to achieving anything is consistency. We know this when it comes to the development of our horses, so why don’t we give ourselves the same courtesy? The key skill I learned for myself, was to break things down in doable proportions. Most of us start out like the hare, and we all know how that story ends lol…so let’s be a bit more like the tortoise and establish a steady pace that allows us to adjust to the demands around us, all the while experiencing the success we want to achieve.
Do something every day that helps you take steps closer to what you want. When you want something really badly and there is a passion connected to it, then there is a drive within you that if you listen it, you will have success. I know life can get in the way…trust me, I also know that if we don’t put ourselves first at some point, we will always be at the end of the list, and our health and relationships will suffer.
Be consistent and be kind to yourself. If something comes up in your schedule where you can’t make it to the barn and it has to be dealt with, then deal with it and move on. Don’t carry that feeling of ‘failure’ with you. You have not failed! Reschedule that workout, or the trip to the barn. If you couldn’t squeeze in that workout, then go for a small walk at the end of the day. It’s not always about how much you do as it is often just about doing something.
Sometimes being kind to yourself isn’t always about goal-oriented situations or activities. Sometimes, it is about taking 5 minutes for yourself during a stressful day to practice some calming breathing exercises, or trusting that you can get the work done, but it is time for a tea. How about taking a timeout from the hectic moments while working from home, a place that is supposed to be a place of peace and refuge and go for a walk to clear your head? If you need a good laugh, put on your favourite sitcom episode you’ve watched a million times, and get those endorphins flowing to help you reduce your stress!
As life changes, our goals change. The key is to be able to adapt to the circumstances you face while keeping on track. Learning to be adaptable during the process of achieving our goals is showing ourselves self-compassion along the way…being gentle with ourselves. Be excited about the progression of your goals. It happens day-to-day, and sometimes without you even noticing it, and remember to always be kind to yourself.