The holiday season is upon us, and we’ve all been there. Waking up the morning after an indulgent night out with friends or going to bed after yet another missed workout, even though you promised yourself that today was the day you’d make a change.
Oftentimes, living a healthy life comes with a certain amount of guilt. It rears its ugly head when we sneak those extra few pieces of leftover Halloween candy. It shows up when we skip a workout, or hit snooze one too many times to leave us rushed and frantic in the morning. When we think of all the things we could or should be doing, guilt is present.
Sometimes we can feel guilty for no reason at all. We are bombarded with images and ideals that are impossible to live up to. Far too often we use guilt as a form of motivation. We mistakenly think that if we feel bad enough about our choices, it’ll finally motivate us to change once and for all. This guilt and resulting negative self-talk are not the way to light the fire of change.
Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head; and when we allow these thoughts to be self-blaming and negative, it stands in the way of self-acceptance, freedom and the opportunity to be our best selves.
By making an active choice to think-differently, we can abandon our self-guilt and break free from negative self-talk. Here are some tips for breaking negative patterns of thought and guilt:
1. Prepare yourself for the negative. We all have those friends that we know contribute to our patterns of self-loathing or who are always “down”; while it’s difficult to cut some of these people out of lives, we can mentally prepare for dealing with them. Also, being prepared to catch your own negative self-talk can lead to choosing to set it aside.
2. Try to see the positive & focus on the “re-frame”; when you’re starting to feel guilty about one negative choice, try to instead focus on a positive choice you did make that day, or how your negative choice could lead to something better. If you’re constantly telling yourself, “I can’t do this”, chances are you will be less like to succeed.
3. Practice makes perfect. Start with one simple rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it and then respond with affirmations of what is good about you in that moment.
By making a few simple changes in the way we choose to think, it can shape the way we feel about our choices and ourselves. Let’s build ourselves up and embrace the fact that some days will be healthier than others, some seasons will allow for more time to exercise and ultimately we can embrace a life of healthy balance knowing that right now, we’re doing the best we can. Free yourself from guilt and negative self-talk, and embrace the power of the positive.