Saturday, April 12, 2008

Learning a little kindness

I ate well this week. Fish, chicken, turkey cooked at home with lots of vegetables and fruit. I took smaller portions, no snacks after dinner. Little meals throughout the day. No junk. You’d think I’d be happy about that. Instead, when I woke up this morning, I was thinking about what I didn’t do. I didn’t exercise – at least not much. At least not enough. And now I’m beating myself up about it.
That’s not a new thing. When I performed poorly in school, I mentally flogged myself. It bugs me when I burn dinner or something doesn’t turn out like I planned. But being tough on myself could make it harder for me to achieve my goals and even cause me to give up.
Behavioral experts talk about the importance of treating yourself with kindness if you want to enact lasting change. Psychologist Mark Leary has studied self-compassion and found that it’s a critical component when it comes to coping with rejection, and failure. Self compassion doesn’t mean shirking responsibility, people who are kind to themselves also tend to be less defensive, he says.
It’s simply a matter of acknowledging your intent, to do your best, and your humanity. Be responsible, but be kind because screw ups are a part of life.
So, I didn’t exercise much this week. O.K. I’m moving on now. The sun is up and it’s mild. Perfect day for a walk. And maybe on my way I’ll celebrate the things I did do right.

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