If you’re like the majority of people who make New Year’s resolutions, you may already be struggling to keep up with your goals (and you may be considering quitting altogether). You might also be pretty self-critical right now; since we set our goals each year with a specific motivation in mind, it makes sense to be disappointed at the thought of not achieving what we set out to do. However, being self-critical likely is not the best way to motivate ourselves during this hard time.
How Should We Respond?
Rather than being self-critical, what would it be like to respond with self-compassion? To respond with kindness, thoughtfulness, and our best intentions at heart? Think of what a friend would say to you in this situation to give you a pep talk and inspire you to continue. Already, you can tell how much better this would feel to hear.
Working through the tenets of self-compassion can help us to process issues such as this in a healthier way and even to motivate ourselves to continue towards our goals without self-blaming. Oftentimes, learning to be kind to ourselves at tough times can help us to actually develop a solution. Being mean typically just leads to us feeling bad with no fix to the issue.
When you have a few minutes, try the exercise included below. If this feels good to you, perhaps you can consider applying the practice of self-compassion to other events in your life when you feel yourself becoming self-negative.
Self-Compassion Practice for New Year’s Resolutions:
Make sure the environment around you is peaceful, comfortable, and safe. Calm your breathing, and carefully consider each of the following points.
Mindfulness: Bring awareness to the emotions you are experiencing without any sort of judgment. Think about what happened, but from an objective point of view.
Example: “I wanted to go to the gym five times a week, but there hasn’t been a single week since I have hit that goal. I feel very angry with myself.”
Common Humanity: Consider how your situation connects to others. What other situations impacted you reaching your goal?
Example: “No one is perfect; lots of people give up or change their goals. Many people have issues with being consistent at the gym. These past few weeks have been difficult with getting the kids settled back into school, too.”
Self-Kindness: Take a moment to say something kind to yourself. Think about what a kind parent or friend might say to you, which is very different from what your inner critic has been saying.
Example: “It’s okay. I understand you’re disappointed by not reaching your goal, but you have been to the gym way more than you would have been otherwise. Maybe we should consider changing our goal to a number of times per week that is more realistic or manageable.