Sunday, 8 May 2016

Be Kind to Yourself

Since the birth of  my third child, I've been struggling to lose the last of that post-partum weight. I reached out to my fitness consultant and she stressed over & over if I want to reach my goals, it is important to be kind to myself. This, my friends, as I am sure is for many of you, is something I really have to work on, a real lifelong challenge. I have spent the last couple weeks thinking about what being kind to yourself means to me. This will be different for everyone, but here is what I have come up with in my reflection.

Being kind to yourself means not letting single successes or failures define your self-worth. Defining yourself by your failures is unhealthy, but also to determine your self-worth by a single success can be an unstable emotionally. If your self-worth is based on a single determinant, accomplishments can turn into challenges overnight. Growing up I was a roller-coaster of self-esteem. I excelled at sports, but if I made a mistake I felt I let everyone down. I was well liked, but if my friends decided not to play with me, in my view nobody liked me. I was hard on myself at everything I did & thought this attitude would be the root of succeeding in life - and to a point it was, but passed that point, I later learned, it would inhibit my ability to excel at the elite level in sport & academics. It wasn't until I quit the university hockey team was I forced to chang my definition of who I was, what made me worthy. We are made up of a collects of traits that make us the beautiful beings we are, it is so important to recognize all that you are made of. And to focus on our strengths that make us unique, accepting the challenges & striving to improve on them.

Being kind to yourself means setting the bar at an achievable level. In have no problem giving the others the benefit of the doubt, but when it comes to myself I tend to take a no excuses approach, to the point where it can inhibit my self-acceptance. It has taken me years to realize that being hard on myself was actually inhibiting my success & detrimental to my confidence, self-acceptance. Every day I still struggle to find this balance for self-acceptance, but the more I do, the happier person I become.

Being kind to yourself means treating yourself (rather than punishing yourself). Having a glass of wine (not 6), going for a walk, eating some chocolate and enjoying each bite.  Make choices that will make you feel good after they are over. Treats, as I explain to my kids, should be occasional, that's what makes them so special. Overindulging, on the other hand, is not kind to you nor your body. Polishing off a family sized bag of chips in one sitting does not come without the consequences of feeling guilty & crummy. No pun intended. Okay, maybe there was.

Being kind to yourself means putting yourself first once in a while. I used to think that putting everyone ahead of me Meade me a better person. But when I deprive myself of my passions I become miserable. My unhappiness leads to treat others with resentment & I become a worse wife/mother/friend for it. Making time for yourself is all part of the balance.

Being kind to yourself means celebrating the little victories & taking credit for them. Choosing to focus on the things that you have done well, rather than the mistakes that seem to blow up in your face. This can be challenging especially when others are involved because it is often the mistakes that get the attention. Only you know the little differences you make in the lives around you, these little victories are worth celebrating. Cherish those 3 year old 'I love you' moments. Validate them by telling someone about these accomplishments, invite others to celebrate them with you.

Being kind to yourself means accepting your flaws. Everyone has flaws (take my overuse of parentheses, for example). Many flaws. More flaws than perfections, but that is what makes us human. Makes us learn. Makes us stronger. As my 5 year old says: nobody is perfect, but everyone is perfect in their own way.

Being kind to yourself means accepting legitimate excuses for your struggles, but also working to overcome them rather than giving into them. If you let them happen, they will get in the way & you will not be happy with the result. But if you take control of the situation & do all you can to make it better, you may not even fix it, but you can say you did all you could to. and to accept that there are some things beyond your control. So here comes the true test for me, accepting that there are some things beyond my control (nooooo!) contributing to my mental health, hormones & my ability to reach my goals, and that is OK. Wow, was that hard to type.

Being kind to yourself means stop comparing yourself to everyone else.  For me, focusing on what everyone else is doing is more discouraging than motivating. It's a little too easy to look at others results with envy. I have been majorly guilty of this. The competitive side of me sees 'that girl' who just appeared to walk out of the hospital after her second back to back baby with a six pack. Why can't I be that fit? How does she make it look so easy? How does she find the motivation with a baby that young? Etcetera etcetera. But I need to remind myself that I am not her. I have a different genetic make up, different support system and a different baby. My life faces different circumstances than hers, so why expect the same results?

Success, for me, is defined by happiness, ability to receive love & to give it to others. Being kind to yourself is such an important part of this. But it is easy to lose sight of that, especially when life gets difficult. Expectations of oneself can be healthy, they can help us strive toward successes in all areas of life....but we must find that balance between self-expectations & self-acceptance, without allowing
 one to get in the way of the other. We must make the effort to be kind to ourselves to better serve the world around us & to find self-acceptance & therefor happiness within. What does being kind to yourself mean to you?

I leave you with one of my favorite videos, Try by Colbie Caillat. I just love playing this one for my girls.

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