Let Yourself Off the Hook

10 04 2013
Pete Kadushin

Pete Kadushin

I want to take a moment to address a common misperception associated with diets, exercise, and how we motivate ourselves in general.  Many of us have this thought (or something similar) rolling through our heads, ‘Today I just wasn’t good enough… I shouldn’t have done/eaten/etc.  I should know better!’

Usually, the idea behind these critical thoughts is that if we don’t hold ourselves accountable, who will? If we don’t act like our own drill sergeant, then we’re bound to give in to our dark side, and never exercise again/eat everything in sight/etc.

It turns out, that’s not usually true.  Given the opportunity to let go of some of those critical thoughts, people often demonstrate increased self-control and generally feel better about themselves.  If you sometimes feel like the kid who got caught with her hand in the cookie jar, you can take the opportunity to pause for a moment.

How would you want to be treated?  How does that compare to how you normally treat yourself?  I know one thing is true, the kid who got yelled at for sneaking a cookie was right back at the jar as soon as mom or dad turned around!

So where does that leave us?  The answer is to let yourself off the hook!

  • We’re all human. In moments of increased stress, or simply during a time of high craving or low motivation, you may realize that we are all human, and since that is conclusively true, we’re all bound to act human.  Give yourself a break and remember that the next choice is the only choice you can make right now.
  • Focus on what is important. If you find yourself skeptical of this idea, think about this for a moment.  If something is really valuable to you (losing weight, gaining muscle, improving fitness), this is something that you will do because it is important to you.  In the moments where you allow old habits to creep in, holding yourself “accountable” by using your negative thoughts as a weapon is only going to drain more energy and make you less likely get back to what’s important
  • Nurture the positives. We often think that in order to improve, or reach our goals, we need to identify our weaknesses and critically evaluate how far we’ve got left to go.  If you can think back to a time when someone did that (boss, parent, significant other), you might remember that the message didn’t really get across that effectively.  Instead, you can try and find the positives steps you’ve taken today (I challenge you all, everyone makes at least one positive decision each day!), and nurture them! You may find that the shift from “what is left to do” towards “what I have done” may give you an opportunity to make different, positive decisions moving forward!
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