If working hard on your health goals hasn’t led to the results you want, you may feel frustrated. That is completely normal. A little self-compassion can go a long way in helping you move forward on your path to success.
Self-compassion means being kind, gentle and understanding toward ourselves, especially when you’re struggling.1 Adopting a self-compassionate state of mind can motivate and support you to help you reach your goals.2
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” —Thomas Edison
Give yourself a break
Often, the person we are hardest on is our own self. Negative self-talk or feeling “not good enough” from time to time is a normal part of being human. These thoughts put obstacles in your way. This self-doubt can hurt you in the long run. Remind yourself there’s always room for improvement but that you are committed to it. Using self-compassion can help you accept where you are right now and keep your focus on moving forward.3
Self-compassion starts by being mindful and self-aware. Pay attention to your thoughts. Notice when you criticize yourself. If you’ve been telling yourself certain things for years, it’s difficult not to believe them. You have around 60,000 thoughts each day. Think of them as 60,000 chances to lift yourself up and not put yourself down.4
Rethink negative thoughts
Think about how you judge yourself. Be aware of negative thoughts and challenge them to help you break this pattern of thinking. Notice them, write them down and put them to the test. Examine both sides with less emotion and more rational thought.4
Ask yourself: What’s the evidence for this? Is there proof to the contrary? Is it always true? Am I looking at the whole picture?
Respond to your inner critic
Now that you have recognized your negative thoughts, write down what you might say to yourself the next time these thoughts come up. Replace what you know is not completely true with something more positive and realistic.4
Rather than: If only I were more successful. Everyone is doing so much better than me. I’ll never get there.
Try: If I continue to work toward my goals, I will be successful. Everyone has challenges. I am focused, doing what I can, and I will persevere. I will get there. I am a good person.
Broaden your focus and remember your WHY
When you get too focused on reaching your goal, you can lose track of why you wanted to get there in the first place.
Reconnect to why you are taking this journey:
- To develop healthy habits
- To make lasting changes
- To feel better
- To improve your overall health
- To experience major life events with loved ones
- To have the freedom to keep doing the activities you love
There will be bumps along the road. Practicing self-compassion during these difficult moments makes it more likely you will achieve your goals. And you’ll feel better along the way.
Connection with and encouragement from others4 can make it easier to reach your personal health goals. Friends and family members can help you along the way. They may even want to join you.
Now find many of the other ways you can practice self-care.
Published June 12, 2023