Wellness {In Real Life} #1: Shifting from Self-Criticism to Self-Compassion

Self-criticism to self-compassion

Welcome to my new series:
Wellness {In Real Life}!

In today’s world, there is an overload of wellness information out there. There are many positives to this, but it can also get overwhelming. It’s common to scroll through your FB feed and want to crawl in a hole rather than think about the long list of things you “should” be doing for your wellness or parenting!

I hope this series, combined with simple tips and real-life examples, is not like that, but something you look forward to reading.  The goal is for it to be relatable (so you will know you are not alone!) and practical (so you can come away with small doable shifts that may impact your wellness and your world.)

I will showcase the “real” side of wellness of myself, my family & others with a reminder of how you can turn any situation into a positive filled with self-love and learning.

Today, I’m sharing an example of self-criticism/beating yourself up that I know is common, especially among mom’s. I hope it will inspire you to think about yourself: How you talk to yourself, where self-care and exercise fall on your priority list, what your patterns and habits are around your wellness and more!

Shifting from Self-Criticism to Self-Compassion to Positive Action

My life is full and honestly, the majority of my life revolves around basketball!. All 3 of my boys (my husband, 2nd grader & 5th grader) are passionate about the sport and much time and energy in our life goes towards it. I love basketball, so it is fulfilling for me, as well.

Ball is life, love, family. Fulfilling, but also time-consuming.  The picture with my girls is from the end of a long weekend on the sidelines watching both sons play while my husband was out-of-town. When he’s gone, I don’t put much pressure on myself.  Shower, no need. Stay in PJ’s all day, sure. Exercise alone on the weekends, not happening. Lots of letting go.

Last weekend was different.  My husband’s season had just ended, so I had his help.

Interestingly enough, I actually struggle MORE when he is around in the area of self-compassion. He’s gone most of the year, so when he IS home, I feel like I should take advantage. I end up putting more pressure on myself for not packing in self-care and making the most of every moment.

Accepting help is always an ongoing process, especially for moms. But, I’m finding the interesting component of the other side: guilt for not taking advantage of help.

Does this ever happen to you?

In my story, I will show you went through my head and more importantly, if you can relate, the steps you can take to boost your self-compassion and turn frustration into a positive. 

So, it was Sunday morning…..

My girls woke me up at 7:15am, which I’m grateful for (I’m not a natural early riser) because we had to leave at 10:45am for a day of the kids’ sports (in addition to b-ball, we had my daughter’s soccer.) PLENTY of time to pack my to-do list in before then!

I needed to go to the grocery, I wanted to get a work out in & finish a few things for work. I know my husband is home, so I can easily scoot out the door to the gym and the grocery, alone.

I should just do these things right away. Instead, I make a big breakfast for the kids. I unload the dishwasher. I clean the kitchen. I read the Sunday Globe. I ready my girls a few stories. I scroll through social media.

Next thing I know, 2 hours have passed. Now, I’m starting to get irritated with myself. UGH! Why didn’t just go workout and to the grocery first thing?! Now, I’m running out of time.

I get out the door to the grocery, but instead of staying home with their dad, my girls (7 & 3) come, which adds an extra element of stress & slowness.

By the time I get home, I’m irritated because now I haven’t left time to work out and I really feel like I need it. I find I’m starting to beat myself up.

Fortunately, self-compassion kicks in….

  1. I’m mindful of my feelings. I am irritated and disappointed with myself. I know I need to prioritize my self-care and wellness and I am mad at myself for not doing it. There are many times when this is hard to pull off, but today I have no excuse. Utilizing self-compassion allows me to acknowledge these feelings and move on, not focus on them. “I am experiencing a moment of suffering.  I feel irritated and shitty and it is okay.”

Negative thoughts and emotions are always going to be a part of our life. Often beating ourselves up is so engrained in our patterns we don’t even realize we are doing it! Once we do realize it, we can allow ourselves to feel how we feel by observing our thoughts and emotions and then moving on.

  1. I’ve accepted my feelings, but a part of me just wants to wallow in self-pity. “I am the worst. Everyone else can pull it together, why can’t I? I’m sure I am the only health & wellness coach in the entire world that has trouble prioritizing her wellness.” Luckily, instead of thinking those thoughts. I quickly remind myself that I’m not alone. No one is perfect. Getting it all done is hard for everyone. It is okay.
  1. I have practiced mindfulness by acknowledging my feelings. I have reminded myself that I am not alone. I am feeling better, but one more step is needed to move me completely from self-criticism to self-compassion: self-kindness. Okay, how would I treat my sisters or a friend if they were in this same situation? With kindness, not criticism!

I try to use those same techniques: I give myself a little hug. I tell myself that it is okay when things don’t go as planned. I remind myself that there is always a transition period when my husband’s season ends, this is it, by next week we will all get into a new routine. I am good mom. I am a real person. I am loved.  I love myself unconditionally, flaws and all.

  1. In addition to Kristin Neff’s 3-Elements of Self-Compassion just described, I love to add 2 more steps. The first: a positive action step. At this point, I realize that I don’t have an hour to get to the gym, but I do have 10-minutes to go for a run. As soon as I am home from the grocery, I have my kids and husband put the groceries away and I head right out the door.

The beauty of self-compassion is that being kind to yourself allows you to move from wallowing in self-defeat/self-pity to figuring out a positive action step.

  1. I love the last step: what did I learn & what can I do better next time? Without self-compassion, steps 4 & 5 rarely happen because instead you are stuck beating yourself up. Sometimes just reframing is your positive action step!

Being mindful and getting to know yourself allow you to notice patterns/habits/issues that tend to repeat themselves. This is a pattern with me…. if I don’t have a specific plan for my exercise/self-care there is a high probability it won’t happen. I do have certain days that I schedule these things, but I get in trouble on the days that I leave open to chance that I will do something.

Moving forward: on these unplanned days, I need to either Make a Plan or just Let Go!! 

The other lessons/reminders were for me were….

  • Perspective: You can’t help what you naturally feel, but getting out of your head and putting things into perspective makings putting a positive spin on thing much easier. This was a pretty insignificant issue in the big picture of life!
  • With exercise: doing something is better than nothing at all! (Also reminded me of this great message of encouragement I received from some strangers in a park several years ago.)
  • There is nothing easier than a quick pick me up than being active outside. The fresh air and the endorphins can change your  whole outlook in only 10-minutes!
  • Self-compassion can be a life-changer! In the past, I would be stuck beating myself and let the day go ruined. Self-compassion allows you to remember it’s okay to not be perfect, keep things in perspective, love yourself unconditionally, and to move forward positively.
  • Simplify & Prioritize. I always want to do more than is realistic to accomplish. This was a reminder to step-back, prioritize and stop trying to do it all!
  • Let go of expectations. This is a good one with Mother’s Day coming up!

So, can you relate to any of this?? How self-compassionate are you? Do you beat yourself up over exercise or feel resentment/irritation when time for you seems to slip away as you care for everyone else?? Or treat yourself with love and kindness? Please share!!

Love & {self} compassion,