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Compassionate Self-Talk

A lot of times, you will hear people saying that you must treat yourself like you would treat others. In a sense, don't say things to yourself that you would not say to someone you love.

However, I find an issue I deal with is that I expect a lot out of myself. In a previous post, I wrote about how I should not have expectations, and I have been working on that since. However, this involved external factors and did not include my personal expectations of myself.

Yesterday, I said that I would do some exercise at the beginning of the day. As the day went on, I did other activities that were not exercise related, and then went to bed afterwards.

I felt bad about not exercising that day, but vowed to do so the next day. So today I did end up exercising and incorporating some movement into my day.

However, reality set in when I was doing one of my H.I.I.T. workouts. After not having done high intensity physical activity in a while, it was tough to get back into it, even if I had previously completed that workout. I pushed myself until I felt I would collapse.

After taking a much needed break, I realized that the dialogue I had with myself was quite toxic. Instead of words of encouragement, the words I used to "cheer myself on" were saying that I was unworthy of reaching my goals, and my other self deemed me worthless if I didn't complete this set.

This made me realize that we have to be very conscious about the way we speak to ourselves. If we aren't, we can end up pushing ourselves to our breaking point...and still pushing ourselves to go past that!

We need to know our limits and, more importantly, know how to respect them. We need to be kind to ourselves.

As psychotherapist Annie Wright mentions in her article "Neuroplasticity and the Critical Practice of Speaking More Kindly to Yourself":

Speaking kindly and lovingly towards yourself re-wires your brain, creating new, more functional neural pathways for yourself and this, in turn, can have a beneficial impact on the rest of your life.

The world was not created in a day, and not getting through a workout today will hardly affect your tomorrow, unless you let it. Instead of being discouraged about having "disappointed" yourself, reframe that attitude and think about how far you have come.

"You just completed 2 rounds of a really hard workout! Good for you! I'm sure that if you continue tomorrow or the next day, there is no doubt you will get better" vs. "Wow, you only finished 2 rounds out of 4? You're better than this. I don't care if you are tired, you will keep going or else your fitness goals go out the window."

Just writing it and reading it makes me cringe, and I can't believe that I talk to my own self that way.

So next time you find that you are beating yourself up and maybe expecting too much, take a step back and reflect. Would you say this to a friend or loved one? If not, then why would you say that to yourself?

Think about how far you have come, as well as being proud of the conscious decisions you make today that affect your future. Be proud that you tried a new recipe (even if it wasn't the best), because you can make it better next time. Be proud that you went out for a short walk today, even if you were feeling lazy. And be proud if you made it through 2 of 4 rounds of a challenging workout.

You can be our own worst critic, but you can also be your best motivator. Be proud of what you accomplish and continue cheering yourself along the way.

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