Well, Team, like the title implies, the single most important thing I want you to have gotten out of these posts is the idea that being kind to yourself is the only way forward.
When you are building a habit you are trying to teach yourself something new. Perhaps you’re learning something entirely new or you are practicing a new way of behaving in a familiar situation. Either way, you are exploring new personal territory and that has a lot of inherent challenges build right in.
The only way to meet those challenges is to be kind to yourself about the process.
Think back to teachers you have had in the past.
Which ones really helped you learn?
Was it the cruel ones with the sharp tongue and the impossible standards?
Or was it the kind ones who showed you how to proceed, supported you as you went along, helped you to correct mistakes, and encouraged you to keep going?
Sure, the cruel one may have spurred you into working hard out of spite but your learning and growth was your own doing in that case. You developed discipline and worked hard *despite* them, not because of them.
The kind teacher may not have been your favourite at the time – their standards were probably high too. They were probably the one who kept after you when you slacked off, the one who knew what you were capable of even when you didn’t.
Kindness isn’t necessarily being ‘nice.’ It’s not about making things unnecessarily easy. It’s not about having no standards or no expectations.
The kind teacher knew when to push you and when to give you a break. The kind teacher had realistic expectations based on who you were and how you moved through the world. The kind teacher tried to be fair.
And that’s the sort of thing I am talking about when I remind you to be kind to yourself.
Today, being kind to yourself might involve resting from physical or emotional exertion.
Tomorrow, being kind to yourself might involve pushing yourself a little harder in your workout just to see if you can.
Being kinder to yourself isn’t based on what you ‘should’ want or what you ‘should’ be able to do.
It’s about meeting yourself where you are today and making the choice that will serve you best now and in the long run.
Being kind to yourself is about being self-compassionate, about recognizing that your needs are important – even when they change from day to day- and about supporting yourself as you expand your comfort zone to encompass new things and improve your sense of well-being.
Being kind to yourself is a key element in making those types of lasting change.
After all, like those memes say – if being mean to ourselves worked, we all would be perfect by now.
So, Team, even if self-kindness is still a work-in-progress for you, please keep working at it.
You are worth that effort.
And speaking of effort, here is your final gold star for this January series.
Congratulations on your efforts this month, please be kind to yourself as we roll into February.
Have fun out there!