How Self-Compassion Can Motivate You to Reach your Goals
Self-compassion is not often talked about in mainstream media, and often it’s mainstream media that plays an integral part in negative feelings about ourselves, from body image to family and career success. We compare ourselves to others and readily point out our perceived shortcomings, ignoring our accomplishments by brushing them off as no big deal or a lucky break.
As a Health Coach and Personal Trainer, I hear small comments from clients regularly that are typically stated as jokes, but the more these things are thought and said, the easier they become ingrained in our beliefs.
Thoughts like, “maybe I can pull off this shirt if I lose this arm flab”, or, “I ate way too much of that dessert, no wonder I’m so fat”, and, “I’ll never be able to do that many push-ups, I’m such a wuss”, may seem small and harmless but each one chips away at your self-esteem and confidence.
Many of us, whether consciously or subconsciously, hold the belief that if we’re too easy on ourselves, we won’t reach our goals. In a way, this could hold some merit. If you’re constantly letting yourself off the hook for not keeping up with your healthy habits, for not reaching for your goals, it will be hard to make progress.
However, emerging research is showing that those who practice self-compassion, show greater motivation to strengthen their weaknesses, as opposed to throwing in the towel.
When you’re hard on yourself with thoughts of, “I could never do that”, or after a slip up, “see, I knew I wasn’t good at this”, you’re talking yourself out of taking any sort of risk. You convince yourself there’s no point to trying to improve because you’re simply not good enough.
This certainly isn’t a mindset that would motivate anyone!
On the flip side, when you treat yourself with self-compassion, it’s easier to brush yourself off and try again.
Let’s took at an example of both these mindsets; self-compassion vs. self-doubt. In this example, you decide to try yoga for cross-training, and you have never taken a yoga class before and don’t feel very confident. You go to the class, and there’s a time you are facing the wrong side of the room, and a couple poses you don’t even feel you can even attempt.
Self-doubt mindset: I knew I’d be terrible at yoga, I’ll probably never be able to do half those poses. I’m just going to stick with running.
Self-compassion mindset: That was out of my comfort zone, I’m glad I tried it and my first time is done! If I practice some on my own this week, I bet next week’s class will be easier.
Self-compassion doesn’t mean coddling. It’s not skipping your workout and telling yourself it’s OK. It’s not making excuses for yourself. It’s forgiving yourself when you try and fall short. It’s recognizing where you can improve, and being OK with not being perfect.