Do you often have a performance mindset when you workout? Do you often feel discouraged if you didn’t “bring it’ or couldn’t perform all the exercises in the session? What is your mindset in a group fitness class or exercising with a friend? Do you fall into a “compare and despair” mentality?
If you can identify with the above questions you are setting yourself up to feel disempowered, which can lead to a domino effect on other areas of your physical and mental health.
When I ask what is the most important part of a fitness routine I get the following responses:
“Just Do It” attitude
However, I find that self-compassion is a critical and yet often absent in an enjoyable and sustainable exercise program.
What does self-compassion look like?
Dr. Kristen Neff (self-compassion.org) is the pioneer in the study of self-compassion. If you haven’t read or listened to any of Dr. Neff’s published articles and podcasts it’s worth your time. One of the elements of self-compassion Dr. Neff identifies is Self-Kindness over Self-Judgement: “Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism. Self-compassionate people recognize that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable, so they tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with discomfort and painful experiences.
After all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?”
I was introduced to Kristin Neff’s body of work while pursuing my credential in Wellness Coaching, which completely changed the way I "do" my life. I have devoured Dr. Neff’s books, which continue to be a reference point in my personal journey and my work with clients. Those who work with me experience a compassionate NON-critical vibe in my sessions. I work with the body they bring, which can differ from session to session. I will also challenge self-deprecating judgmental comments. Yes, movement for fitness should be challenging for improved strength, flexibility, and balance. Exercise should also be mostly enjoyable and empowering in order to be sustainable throughout your life.
So why not give Self-Compassion a try? Replace negative, judgement oriented comments with:
I showed up for myself today and did what I could
I’m proud of myself for making time for exercise
I’m grateful for what my body can do
I feel confident in my body
I’m becoming stronger every day
I guarantee you’ll feel much better and be much more motivated for your next workout.