October 17, 2022
Hi, I’m Erin, and I’m here with you today to talk about self kindness.
This will be an actionable workshop, so take notes.
It’s also going to be very short: no more than 15 minutes. As such, it won’t be particularly interactive, but if you have questions or comments as we go along, feel free to pop them in and I’ll see if I can save some time at the end to address a few. No guarantees! You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
So. Self kindness. Where do we begin with this massive topic?
Let’s frame it in the context of stress.
We all know that stress is unhealthy. It will put the brakes on any health improvement you wish to make because your body will be busy dealing with the stress. Your nervous system, the root of EVERYTHING, will be in preservation mode to keep you safe.
Of all the kinds of stress I see my clients present with, the most insidious one of all is the stress of not enoughness. Failing to measure up to the standard. This is especially rampant in the cultures of dieting, fitness, weight loss, beauty, aging, and wellness.
For instance. People carry around a chronic burden of stress about not losing “enough” weight quickly “enough.” So much not enoughness there. Just spending a whole lifetime feeling like you’re constantly falling short of some vague expectation.
What do we do? diet harder (more stress), exercise harder (more stress) and become panicked and upset (even more stress) because it’s “not working… enough.”
I see this every day with the clients I work with.
Well, I say: if nothing changes, nothing changes.
So if living in chronic, stressful terror that your body is not _______ enough isn’t working for you (and it isn't), what else could you try?
How about the complete opposite?
Acceptance. Patience. Self-kindness.
Easier said than done. WAY easier. Folks we aren’t curing this generational self-flagellation in one 15 minute webinar.
But! Think about it. If you practiced sending calm, quiet energy inward, your nervous system would perceive safety in the environment. “The animal is safe.” Everything is okay. Sigh.
And ONLY THEN will your body feel safe enough to even think of letting go of your stored fuel.
Think about it. Fuel is precious. It’s arguably the most precious commodity in and on your body, even though we’ve been trained to really hate it. If your nervous system is constantly in fight/flight/protection mode, I’m sorry to say that your stored fuel isn’t going anywhere. Your body is going to double down on hanging onto it as a protective measure as long as you bathe your nervous system in worry and fear.
The root emotion of this unkind not enough language is fear. Chronically sending fear messaging into the body is locking you into a chronic stress cycle. A chronically stressed body and mind WILL NOT move forward with health improvement.
THIS is why “stress makes us fat.”
THIS is why it’s nearly impossible for us to move the dial on our health or body composition when we’re in panic or stress mode.
THIS is why practicing self-kindness as an act of quieten your stressed out inner world is so metabolically important.
Once again: metabolism under pressure won’t let go of stored fat. It’s a matter of survival.
Now, if one of your main sources of internal stress is your own tendency to be mean to yourself… ya gotta stop.
If you have a pen and paper handy, write these next few things down. These are the actionable takeaways of this workshop — kinda just thought-starters or journal prompts — for you to noodle on tonight, and tomorrow, and the next day, and any day of the week where you’re being really hard on yourself.
First of all: Feel your feelings. This is not about trying to stop, control, or corral any feeling.
Allow yourself to really feel whatever shame or disappointment or embarrassment or frustration you’re feeling.
If you really let yourself feel it, and feel it all the way through, you will notice that it quietens on its own.
That’s a really awesome coping skill to master.
When you feel unkind toward yourself ask this series of questions, in this order…
What triggered this? Get to the source. Seek to understand what sets these thought patterns off for you. If you can solve for the root cause, you’re good. For me, for example, I’m visually triggered by images of celebrating hotness. I literally manage my own exposure to that, just like I would with an environmental allergy!
Is it necessary? With only curiosity and absolutely no judgment, what is the necessity of you bringing this feeling inside? There’s not always a clear answer here. But ask yourself if your feelings of self-judgment are really solving anything, or if it might be better to double down on step 1 and identify your triggers. Or, simply move onto the next important self-check-in which is…
Is there a proposed action behind it or is it only a flurry of unproductive, unkind words and thoughts? In other words: Did you follow up your feelings with a declaration of intent. I feel ______ so I’m going to ______.
a) If there is no declaration of intent, then nothing more needs to be done except to allow yourself to feel the feeling all the way through. It will pass, and by allowing it to exist without trying to micromanage or push it down, eventually you gain some upper hand over the feelings.
b) If there is a declaration of intent facilitated by the feeling, ask yourself: is this proposed action a kind one, or is it a punishing one?
i.e. "I ate a piece of pie so now I need to go for a run." (Punitive); versus: "I ate a piece of pie but one piece of pie isn't a showstopper, and I really enjoyed it." (Kind)
What outcome are you hoping from this action?
How is that outcome aligned with your values and your intrinsic motivations? (Do you know your values and intrinsic motivations? If not, definitely take a minute to connect to that. Here is a workbook to help you do it!)
What you’ll notice here is that there is no clear solution but there is clear communication between what you think, feel, and know.
One of the kindest things you can do to quieten your stressed out inner world is to bring some structure and awareness to it.
That’s what this exercise does.
We aren’t solving the global self-kindness deficiency in one 15 minute webinar, but we can learn practices to begin thinking differently about ourselves.
Because if being hard on yourself worked, it would have worked by now.
P.S. Here's that link to the goal-setting workbook I mentioned in the video. :)