It was a crazy day. The school was reopening after the holidays, the weather was unusually cold. To add to the chaos, I thought I had snoozed the alarm but had turned it off instead. So we ended up waking 45 minutes later than I had intended.
And the outcome?
We missed the school bus, the house was a mess, I felt irritated and tired and ended up yelling at my child for something so insignificant that I don’t even remember what it was.
Within moments, I was berating myself for my reactivity and wished I had expressed myself differently. It didn’t stop at that, I spent no time labelling myself as an incompetent mom who had no emotional regulation.
Sounds pretty harsh?
That was me for years until I figured out something life-changing.
But before, let me share how this story connects with my practice as a weight-loss coach where I see my clients do something similar. Something, I myself once did.
If you’re someone who is trying to lose weight, I’m sure there must be days when you eat on plan, exercise and make healthy choices just like you intended to.
And then life happens.
You have a rough day at work or someone cuts you in the traffic just when you were taking a turn or you burn the food you’d been cooking because the doorbell rang or your best friend paid a surprise visit with a box of the most exquisite doughnuts in town.
What happens next (perhaps a couple of minutes or hours later)?
You end up eating in a way that ruined your week’s hard work.
But it doesn’t stop at the overeat.
You mentally beat yourself up with thoughts of disappointment and self-judgement like:
“I have no self-control”
“I can never lose weight”
“I’m doomed to stay overweight for the rest of my life”
“If only my friend hadn’t shown up with those doughnuts or if only my boss didn’t make my life so tough”
“Life is so unfair”
In both of the above examples, we are yelling.
Let’s go through what’s going on.
If we react with harshness (and not compassion) towards our kid when he/she makes a mistake, we must yell at ourselves when we make a mistake.
This likely suggests that our mistakes, when growing up, were met with judgment and not curiosity.
I’m not sure about you but that was exactly the case with me.
I noticed this pattern while re-reading my past journal entries and my mind was blown away.
Being constantly judged for my mistakes as a child had manifested itself in a way that I found myself judging my every move harshly.
Once I became aware of this, I also noticed, how unkind I was to myself.
I’d notice talking to myself in a way I would never do to my best friend or to anyone I cared for.
This realisation was the cornerstone of my understanding of how self-compassion and self-care are important before any relationship in our life (beginning with our relationship with ourselves) can get better.
Our thoughts about ourselves change the lens of our worldview.
When we’ve had a really disappointing, painful time, we often look back through a lens of frustration, greyness, loss, impatience or anger.
Frustration that things didn’t unfold as we’d have liked.
Greyness because once we’ve known the pain of truly tough times it can tinge all times.
Loss because sometimes we lose parts of ourselves to the darkness or we lose time.
Impatience because we’re not where we’d hoped we’d be.
Anger that this has happened at all.
The tough times can be dark and relentlessly exhausting. They take so much from us and leave us feeling unsettled and wary of life. They knock us to our feet and sometimes we stagger back up, battled out, holding onto the tiniest shreds of hope.
We had higher hopes and life felt like a colourful potential-ridden kaleidoscope.
But, it is possible to change the lens that we look through to reflect.
Where there is frustration, there could also be pride that we got through even when we doubted that we ever could.
We displayed strength and courageousness that we didn’t know existed within us.
Where there is greyness, there could also be a pink hue cast on all of the people and things that pulled us through and provided comfort in the most uncomfortable of times.
Where there is loss, there’s also often gain; lessons, understanding, coping tools, compassion, empathy, re-discovery, shackles are shaken off.
A realisation that we can’t ever know what lies ahead so we might as well embrace the gift of the present moment. Prioritise the things which do light us up.
Follow those dreams of ours because ‘impossible’ can be shuffled to ‘I’m possible’ with a little space and grace.
Where there is impatience, there’s also an eye-opening that life isn’t ever linear – not for anyone, despite how much it often looks that way from the outside looking in.
Life is rich with peaks and troughs, it has forks in the road and crossroads, there’s darkness and there’s light. There’s tweaking, pivoting and flexing.
There are choices and there are options and there’s an endless possibility, even for us. Even if we need a break first to soothe our battle-worn-ness.
Where there is anger, there’s often change; self-care routines, boundary setting and shifting, trying new things, a twist out of the confines of societal, cultural and relational expectations. Anger that can evolve into bottled energy of enthusiasm to propel us to where we want to go, be and do.
What I am saying here is that the real problem is not how to lose weight, or what to eat, or how to exercise because there is plenty of information at every corner – the real problem is self-judgment.
So how do we change?
Well, we change by connecting with the part of ourselves that needs compassion and patience – this part of us has been waiting, for decades, for this connection-first approach.
Plus, this has to happen before we have enough compassion and patience around mistakes to dole some out to our kids.
How we react to others shows us how we react to those same parts in ourselves – which shows us how others used to react to those parts of us.
We typically tend to come off pretty badly when we self-reflect, particularly if the times have been awful. We see the loss of opportunity, the loss of self, the pain, the tiredness and that nagging feeling that we could, we should, have done better.
We see the flailing as failing where the failure would be to not flail at all; it’s the fact we try that matters the most – not how polished that mightiness might have been.
And it’s a crying shame.
The fact you got through the tough stuff, shows ingenuity, tenacity and a dig-deepness.
So the next time you fail to accomplish your goal or make a mistake and feel tempted to beat yourself up – remember, you are not a failure, you are not broken and you certainly don’t suck at keeping commitments.
It took me a long time to acknowledge that my life being a single mom was hard. And it was okay if I had failed and fallen along the way as long as I was willing to learn from my mistakes.
My life changed the moment I stopped berating myself for “not handling things well” or for feeling overwhelmed.
I realized that this season of mothering as a single parent was a phase of me becoming the person I was born to be. I needn’t compare my hard to someone else’s.
It was the moment I stopped comparing was when I stopped feeling like a failure as a Mom.
Using the same understanding in my weight loss journey was what kept me going every time I overate, ate the foods that didn’t serve my health goals or missed my exercise routine. I had to learn to be kind and compassionate in how I talked to myself.
And the good news is, self-love and compassion are skills that can be learnt with patience and practice.
They require nothing more than a willingness to change and the patience to keep trying till talking compassionately and without judgement becomes our default self-talk.
So the next time you catch yourself yelling at yourself or anyone else, take a pause, reflect and choose to be kind to yourself before you try anything else.
I promise you, if you try this strategy you’ll end up bettering all relationships and losing your emotional and physical weight in the long run.
You’re astounding and you’re outstanding despite, in spite of, because of what you’ve gone through.
And the best part has been, ever since I became self-compassionate, I have found myself getting calmer and compassionate towards my child in her times of feeling the big feelings and failing in life.
Are you ready to create next-level results in becoming your leaner, healthier and calmer self?
I want to invite you to join my Be Healthy Be You program where you’re going to lose weight, be done with the struggle and know exactly how to maintain and enjoy those results with unapologetic confidence. It’s time to stop dreaming about the results you want and start enjoying them.
If you’re at the start of your weight loss journey, begin with the strategies that have helped lose 60 pounds and that I teach my coaching clients to achieve sustainable results. Take the FREE Weight Loss Ownership Course.