RESOLVE TO CELEBRATE YOUR WINS THIS YEAR
December 29, 2014
As you head into January and begin forming your long list of resolutions, why not take a different approach this year? Instead of giving yourself a list of the things you want to change about yourself, try listing the things you should celebrate. Self-compassion can be the key to your success.
If you're like most, you're probably quick to compliment a co-worker when she looks nice or a friend when he completes his first half-marathon. But when was the last time you paid yourself a compliment? Chances are you focus more on the negative ("I ate too much at lunch.") and less on the positive ("Good for me! I walked to work this morning.").
This is a good time of year to begin to change those behaviors and form better habits heading into the new year. To begin with, acknowledging your accomplishments (no matter how small they may seem) and not beating yourself up if you have a bad day, or even a bad week can have a major impact on your motivation to live healthier.
Ready to get started? Here are three ways to practice self-compassion:
When you have a bad day food-wise, you probably try to soothe yourself with more food (and we're not talking kale or Brussels sprouts). But a 2007 study by researchers from Duke University and Louisiana State University suggests that even a minor shift in thinking can influence eating habits. Study subjects who didn't tell themselves they blew it after eating a doughnut were less likely to overeat later on. Sure, your inner voice might say, "Since I've already messed up, I may as well eat whatever I want for the rest of the day." But you could just as easily honor yourself and put things in perspective by saying, "It's not the end of the world, and if I'm careful the rest of the day, I'll be fine." Once you accept the fact that everyone slips up occasionally, you'll be more likely to cut yourself some slack.
The words you use on a daily basis can actually influence your sense of empowerment and control and impact your future behaviors. Case in point: Those who begin a sentence with the words "I can't" are less likely to stick to long-term goals when faced with temptation than those who say "I won't,"according to a small study published in the Journal of Consumer Research. In the study, women were asked to pursue healthy goals for 10 days. If they couldn't, they either had to just say no; say they "can't" do it or they "don't" do it. In the end, the "don't" group had the most members (8 out of 10) who persisted with their goals for the entire time. The researchers believe that when you say "I can't lift a heavier weight" or "I can't cook because I'm too tired," you're reminded of your limitations. By comparison, when you say "I don't lift weights," or "I don't cook," you exhibit control and power over a situation. It's a phrase that can propel you towards breaking bad habits and following better ones. Bottom line: the words you choose when speaking to yourself or others are important for long–term success.
You already know that actions speak louder than words, which is why it's important to be respectful—both to others and to yourself. Ironically, people who find it easy to be supportive and understanding to others often berate themselves for perceived failures like being overweight or not exercising. But giving yourself a break and accepting your imperfections may be the first step toward better health. Take a cue from actress Drew Barrymore, who has spent much of her life in the public eye. "My main beauty tip is don't say that negative thing when you look in the mirror," she told Women's Health. "Happiness is the best makeup. A smile is better than any lipstick you'll put on." If you prefer a science-based incentive, know this: Those who give themselves an occasional pat on the back are more likely to visit a doctor if they have a concern.
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