Sunday, January 20, 2013

Why Are We So Hard On Ourselves?

Gratitude journals seem to be all the rage now, especially with the start of a new year. I must admit I truly believe there is something to it. In the crazy, go-go-go world we live in, we rarely slow down long enough to appreciate the good things in life, unless it’s something massive like getting pregnant or a getting a hard earned promotion at work. Sometimes a random stranger holding a door for you and give you an unexpected smile, can really give you a boost! Unfortunately, we often get very caught up in the negative; even the most infinitesimal things can set us off. Keeping a gratitude journal not only focuses us on the good things, but also sets us on a mindset to seek out those positive things throughout the day, no matter how small they may be.
Although I have kept a gratitude journal on and off for a quite a while, I have recently taken a slightly different approach to this. Although I am much healthier than I have ever been, I too have times where I still struggle to stay on track. Like many people, especially women, I am an emotional eater. I have a bad day and I often get stuck in it, my eating habits go out the window (hey I already had 2 cookies why not eat half the box….) and instead of going to the gym I opt for a nice glass of wine (or maybe 2, 3, etc.) I think worse than actually going off the rails, is the self-imposed guilt after that fact. I beat myself up for days and vow to never do it again! Let’s face it…I am human and we all have bad days – I am going to have days where maybe I overindulge! Why do we feel the need to punish ourselves? The constant guilt does nothing to help you; in fact it often sabotages you. I mean, if I already feel bad, continuing to beat myself up only further depresses me, which is what led to the devouring of the cookies in the first place! It’s not exactly motivating!
I have always been someone who is very hard on myself; I am type A through and through. Trust me when I tell you that no one could say or do anything that is harder on me than I am on myself. When I was a kid the worst possible thing my mom could say to me was that she was disappointed in something that I did…punish me, yell at me, take away the TV or honestly I think there were times I would rather be spanked (not that I ever was…my parents were not spankers), but being a disappointment was the worst! Even as I got older, if I got a 98 on an exam, I would torture myself over those 2 missed points and why I got them wrong! It’s so twisted! I got a 98….HELLO that is freakin’ awesome!
So now instead of focusing on every “wrong” thing I do each day, I keep a “good things” journal. Every day I write down a couple of things that I did that were really good; either for me or for someone else. Even on those bad days when I can’t stop myself from grabbing a couple cookies I know I shouldn’t of had…instead of spending the day beating myself up over it and vowing to starve myself for the rest of the day, I acknowledge the fact that maybe that was not the best choice, but hey at least I didn’t devour the entire plate! In fact, stopping that negative thought in its tracks is usually that thing that stops me from eating 10 more cookies!
So tonight when you go home, instead of focusing on everything that went wrong or maybe did not quite go as planned…jot down a couple really good things you did today. Being healthy is a lifelong path, you are gonna take some side trips and that’s okay. More importantly don’t underestimate the importance of our emotional health on our physical health. So what good things did YOU do today?

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