Have you ever been your own worst critic, especially at this time of year when it comes to your new years resolution about losing that fat that’s crept up on you and got you in that immovable bear hug? How many times have you made that same resolution, made some progress then got distracted, injured, fed up, pissed of, bored, confused with all the hype and bullshit out there and then completely de-motivated?
Trying harder is often not the solution. Making resolutions from a place of mixed emotions such as guilt, shame etc, and from a state of confusion will always end in failure. The way to make a resolution that will actually work is to let all that negative shit go for a while and work on forgiving yourself for being where you are and accepting you for who you are right now. Once you reach this point you can dive back in to pursuing what you desire for yourself. But if you want to succeed, it has to come from a place of compassion.
I don’t like using the word goal these days, it’s far too corporate, clinical and not particularly motivating. I much prefer the word desire. When you focus in what you desire it generates very different emotions, feelings and thought processes and these are much more capable of developing the behaviours and habits that will get you tow what you desire.
Now I am very well aware that this may be a completely alien concept to you and that you may feel that this is easier said than done. Finding self-compassion can be quite a challenge at first, particularly if you are used to kicking your own arse when you don’t achieve what it is your set yourself, and the idea of forgiving yourself for being in the same situation time after time seems ridiculous. Yet while it might take a lot more self-reflection and exploration than counting calories and drinking green juices, compassion and forgiveness are the hidden keys to successful achievement in any area of your life. Here’s a few top tips.
1. Be compassionate towards yourself and find acceptance of where you’re at.
Begin by identifying the area where you’re stuck or dissatisfied in your life and approach it with compassion. This step can be difficult for people who feel sure that shame about their weight was the only thing standing in the way of gaining more weight.
It takes a lot of courage, patience, and self-reflection to release and reframe the belief that self-shaming is helping you stay in control. If you’re struggle with this, I strongly encourage you to honestly examine how that tactic has worked for you so far. Has it really helped you reach your desired result? If your answer is no, then are you ready to try something new?
2. Cut yourself some slack and forgive yourself.
Once you’re able to embrace compassion instead of shame, it’s time for the most important step: Explore ways that you can reframe your situation and forgive yourself for being where you are right now. While reframing looks different for everyone, it can sometimes be painful and anchored with emotional baggage. Be prepared to face your demons and don’t be afraid to reach out for support during this phase.
Reframing in this context requires two things: acceptance of the objective facts and willingness to subjectively reframe those facts in a more self-loving way. People often think they’re accepting the facts when they apply guilt and shame for where they’re at, but they’re not.
First of all be crystal clear about the actual facts. Separate your subjective stories (for instance, “I’m lazy and need to get in shape”) from the facts (“This is my body today”) and work to accept the literal truth of where you are. Don’t be surprised if your objective list is short: You are here, in this body, right now. Try looking in the mirror every morning and repeating to yourself, “This is what I look like today.”
You also need to reframe the subjective stories you tell yourself about how you got here, why you’re here, and what that means about who you are. The story you’ve believed so far is entirely subjective, it is just the reality that you’ve created to justify it to yourself, and must be rewritten to be kinder and more self-loving. It can be helpful to talk to people who love you. Tell them what you’re working on reframing and ask for their help.
3. Ask yourself, “What if this were a gift?”
I know this sounds completely mad, how could an extra 20 pounds be a gift? Bear with me here for a moment as you search for the gift in your struggle. You might be surprised to find that staying stuck has protected you from something you weren’t yet ready to handle, or that the change you’ve been trying to make actually goes against one of your highest values. Do you know what your core values are? Check out my free PDF that will take you step by step through the process of figuring them out.
How to Feel Great Even When You’ve Gained Weight
After weeks of contemplation and journaling, a client of mine came to me one day with an answer to that question. She told me that the extra weight she carried protected her from unwanted male attention, and that she was absolutely terrified of what would happen if she lost it and became (in her words) “traditionally attractive.” She also said that other women saw her as non-threatening, because she wasn’t skinny. The weight had helped attract a great number of kind and supportive women into her life. In short, those 20 pounds truly were a gift, and her subconscious was reluctant to part with them.
This is how rewriting your personal story gives you the opportunity to forgive yourself. Mt client began to see that no matter how hard she tried to lose weight, she was always going to fail, because she valued safety and connection too highly.
No matter what your guilt ridden resolution might be, I assure you there is a very good reason you haven’t accomplished it, yet. There always is. Once you find that reason, you will also find compassion and forgiveness and be able to see what really needs to be done in order to move forward. For my client, that work meant learning to feel comfortable and safe in her own skin, healing from an old trauma that made her believe male attention was dangerous, and trusting that losing weight wouldn’t drive away the female connections she valued so deeply.
Compassion and forgiveness aren’t only useful for getting you unstuck; you can also use them to help you set goals from the get-go. Ask yourself what gift your habit has been and offer yourself a replacement before attempting your goal.
Take smoking as an example. If smoking offers you stress relief and common ground with friends, you’re going to need to adopt some new habits to fight stress and social awkwardness before your subconscious will let go of smoking.
By goal-setting from a place of compassion, forgiveness, acceptance and understanding, you’ll be armed with the right tools that you need to actually succeed and achieve what you desire.
If you’re still struggling with reframing then by all means get in touch with me and we can figure it out together, just drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a time.