I’m sure you’ve been there: it’s a rough day and you’ve just blown one of your goals. Dejected and a little ashamed, you curse yourself and your slip up and get ready to throw in the towel. You’re about to sabotage yourself and your goals.
I’ve been there myself. While I generally eat quite healthy and try my best to exercise regularly, there are some days where I just don’t hit the mark. For whatever reason, they start off poorly and the entire day feels blown.
I used to find myself often sabotaging the rest of the day. After eating an unhealthy lunch, for example, I’d think “well there goes that!” and I would then eat an unhealthy dinner and snacks. I felt like I had already “failed”, so why salvage the rest of the day? I would just start again tomorrow.
The same applies to things like mindset: if I was in a bad mood early in the day and had been snappy, what’s the point in trying to dig myself out of it? I knew I’d feel better in the morning, so why not wait for the reset button to be pushed?
I know this is a real challenge for many of us, and today’s post shares some thoughts (and an AMAZING analogy!) to shift our thinking.
First, put things into perspective.
Okay, so you may have just “cheated” on your diet, skipped a morning at the gym, or forgotten yet again to meditate. Yes, it may feel demoralizing and frustrating. It’s also totally normal to be upset with yourself. I mean you set these goals for yourself, you want to stick to them!
But if you get back on the horse, this can be but a blip on the radar. It’s one day of not checking a box. That’s it. And giving yourself kindness and compassion versus disappointment and anger will make a huge difference in your likelihood to take the next best self.
For more on how to deal with your inner bully, check out my post on how to stop negative self talk.
Second, take the next best step.
My aunt shared with me a very powerful thought that has changed the way I handle situations like these. She said:
“If you were driving along and got a flat tire, would you then blow out the other three and render your car useless? Or would you fix the flat and continue with your drive?”
In other words, why make any situation worse by explicitly sabotaging yourself, when you could instead choose to make better decisions?
I absolutely love this analogy and it’s made me rethink my actions so often.
That day I didn’t make it to the gym in the morning and had a butter tart after lunch? Instead of ordering pizza for dinner, I went to the gym in the afternoon to make a good choice for my health.
That time I felt like moping around the rest of the day because I had had a bad morning? Instead of giving in, I picked up the phone and called my Dad to hear how he was doing and to shift my mood to a more positive one.
It’s all about acknowledging where you are, showing yourself compassion, and making the best possible next step that you can.
You may feel like this. But you still have 3 fully functioning tires!
Third, change your self-talk.
The additional benefit of this practice is that it changes how you feel about “slip-ups” and the self-talk surrounding them. Before, my self-talk would be very negative: “Well, you just blew a whole day of healthy eating!” “There goes the entire day!” “There you go again, ruining the day by eating a big dessert.”
Now that a slip-up no longer means a ruined day, it has less power. My self talk has changed to: “You may not have made it to the gym this morning, but there’s still time!” “What a great opportunity to boost your energy this afternoon by going to the gym now!” and “Life is about balance – that dessert was great, but let’s try to get moving this afternoon!”
I should say that I by no means condemn eating dessert (I love sweets and baking!) – I’m just using it as an example, since dessert is one of my vices and I often eat a lot of dessert regularly.
My challenge for you is the next time you feel yourself starting that negative self talk, STOP. Pause and reflect on the tire analogy. Sure, you may have slipped up, or you may have hit a snag in your day. But does it really make sense to start down that self-destructive path? Or can you take a different approach that will make the best of the rest of the day?
Looking for some motivation specifically around starting to work out? This post has you covered! And my post How to Stop Being Hard on Yourself: 3 Powerful Ways is worth a read too.
Our thoughts are powerful, and my improving how we treat ourselves, we can greatly increase our happiness.