Believe in kindness for you this year
It’s that time of year again when we set ourselves up for success or failure. We don’t do this intentionally of course. No it’s in the way that we create our ‘resolutions’ and follow through. I am sure you know what I am talking about as you have had many years of practice. It’s hard to resist, right? The pull is too strong to not commit to something new. Depending on how your 2011 went this may be really strong or weak. The balanced approach is to treat the transition with respect, pause and consider the old and move into the new. If done consciously in a way that personally suits you, this can create a positive experience.
What is often the case though is that we rush out of the gates like a horse in a race. We don’t know whether we have the stamina or the capacity to get there. But we set our selves out on the course raring to go. Then we lose energy, fall behind and never meet the ambitious perhaps unrealistic goal set on 1 January. Is this you?
Or perhaps you are over it. Perhaps you have had a few too many years go by where now you just couldn’t be bothered. Today is like yesterday. Tomorrow will be like today. You throw your hands up in the air, lean further back in your chair and just let what happens, happen.
Neither of these approaches are really going to get you anywhere are they? The effect on you is more likely stress, boredom, depression or some level of frustration.
I know. I have experienced both ends of this spectrum! I have also worked well with the balanced approach.
New year promise
So this year lets consider a different type of resolution. Instead of resolving to stop and start things just say to yourself a promise. Promise to yourself the following:
“No matter what happens, no matter how I end up or where I go, I am always kind to my self.”
I encourage you to start with this statement. Say it to yourself, write it down, record it. Do whatever works. Then add to this promise by repeating and referring to it when you wake up and when you go to bed at night. Maybe then this will stick and you will enjoy the challenges of goals, handle the ups and downs and surprise yourself when you get to places you only dreamed of before.
Now already some of you may be reacting. It’s through being tough that you get through the difficult parts, right. But then this is already an issue. At times we can anticipate the resolution to be hard and challenging so that is what we get. Compound these beliefs with the negativity surrounding us in our environment - eg news and media, pressure to conform and fit in, etc. It’s easy to get caught up in this downward spiral. Once you add your own dramas and story you are caught and need a lifesaver to get you out. Soon we are blaming the year for our problems, and failures.
For example, a typical resolution experience
As an example consider one of the more common resolutions…lose weight and get in shape. Is this on your list? It’s been on mine for about 30 years. Still working on it. Suppose I will get there when I’m in the grave. I will certainly be lighter. Anyway, jokes aside, it is a common experience especially after an indulgent and rich holiday season to want to come clean health wise. And before any of you write to me to say why not, know that I agree. I agree that creating goals and intentions around positive sustained good health is important.
Inside out, not outside in
This example brings to mind the various ways we struggle with resolutions. What starts as a great idea in our head loses its momentum in the translation and reality of execution. There can be pressure both on our self and from others. The measure is externalised to standards both expressed and implied.
So for a greater chance of personal success, the strength of your commitment needs to come from within not without. You make the choices. You make the decisions. You are then your own measure of success. You are your own master at pacing your progress, determining what is relevant or not for you. When you need help then you make the call and ask.
The secret ingredient
So what makes this work?
Belief in self.
Belief in your capacity and capability to create positive change in your life.
Often this belief comes from personal experience. Other times from people in your life who inspire and show the way. No matter where the belief comes from this is the battery of power that really keeps you going.
So in addition to making the promise to be kind to yourself, do a check in on your beliefs. It’s a bit overwhelming to consider all beliefs, so start with a topic or area. For example you could pick the topic of new year reviews and goal setting. Or pick one of the areas you want to focus on.
In your review notice what is it that you believe and where these beliefs fall on the negative or positive side of life. Reframing how you see these is then your choice.
If you are not able to identify the beliefs then enlist a helper – eg friend or more objective coach. Get the helper to ask you the questions (without any comment or judgment!) and see what comes up. Then review which beliefs are hindering and which are supporting you.
So even after considering the ups and downs of new year resolutions,
I am a big fan timeliness of this goal setting opportunity. I like the idea of:
- setting intentions and goals, when you are ready.
- getting help from friends, family and other helpers.
- creating as you go but also knowing where you want to go.
- being super aware of what works and doesn’t work for you so that you can adjust in the moment.
- trying, making a go of it, taking action and experimenting.
- being kind to your self.
- revisiting beliefs and reinforcing positive ones.
Being kind to yourself in 2012
So lets now assume that you are on the path of committing to being kind to your self in 2012 and beyond. Lets also assume you have your beliefs in check. So how can you be kind to yourself?
- Make the commitment to you right now to be kind to you.
- Whether you need to say this out loud or write it down just do it. Then find a way to remind yourself. It may be a little note you have on your phone or a reminder you put in your diary. Or maybe you need something more in your face like a poster, screensaver or post its all over the house. No matter what you do commit now.
- Catch yourself when you are being unkind.
- Then reframe and talk yourself out of it. If you can’t talk yourself out of it then find someone else you can talk with to help you. The idea here is not to pass on the responsibility to another to make you feel better. Simply find a way to switch the mood, attitude and focus of your thoughts.
- Savour and relish the moments you take care of your self.
- Yes I know this sounds a bit indulgent but it’s not really. The more you immerse yourself in the goodness of this experience the more you will feel the long term effects.
- Help others develop their kindness to others resolution by letting them support you. If the world is to balance out then you need to receive and not just give. Not selfish when you think you are giving someone else the opportunity to be nice.
- Create a diet of kindness. Just as you would eat three meals a day, find a way to nourish and nurture yourself during the day. This approach makes being kind to yourself not just a treat and a special experience but a day to day practice.
Be creative with your ideas. This is not about routine but about regularity. So once you have a way that works add something new. Change things up. Create more ways to ensure that you look after you.
When you are kind to your self and align your beliefs to support you then you live as an example for others. We each learn from each other. The more you take care of you the less the blame and excuses will go around. Instead there will be more responsibility and time for us to enjoy life and be with each other.
Believe in kindness for you this year.