There is nothing more important than not betraying yourself, but it takes a lifetime to learn how, and for some, the lesson remains forever out of reach. Whether the issue is weight loss, fitness, quitting smoking, learning a language, or some other goal or habit, we are very often our own worst enemies in achieving what we set out to do.
First, our expectations of what we are capable of or how long it will take to become capable are often unrealistic. As an aside, I live this issue every day as a result of ADD, when all I ever do is bite off more than I can chew. If you set the bar too high, you disappoint yourself, can disappoint others, and create a negative cycle. Knowing yourself and better understanding what you can do is a first step in overcoming this issue.
Second, things are always more difficult than we imagine they might be before we start. When we realise this, we often make excuses for ourselves and soften or lower our goals. This is a no-no. If you set it, stick to it.
What do you do when lessons 1 and 2 kick in together? Don’t give up on the goal, just adapt how you get there. A small example from today and my morning run. I set myself a goal today of doing a 10k. But I got up late and started late. That makes an enormous difference in temperature: running at 6:00 am the weather is warm and pleasant, by 7:30 it is already hot…today it was sweltering. I couldn’t keep going, and at 6.5 had to stop. I breathed, I stretched, and was disappointed in myself. I walked a bit.
But I had also set myself a goal of 10k and I wasn’t going to let go of it. Instead, I thought of my exercise bunny sibling’s words, “if you want to run faster, then run faster.” And my response was, “what? Just like that?” And her response, “Of course, what do you expect?”
That’s tough love. My version of it today was to take that remaining 3.5km and deliver it to myself in bursts, and did it at a faster pace, with breaks in between. In the end I met my original goal, but also worked on a new goal. This is what I mean by showing yourself tough love.
You cannot expect someone else to own your life. You cannot expect someone else to set the bar for you if you cannot first do it for yourself. Self-love begins with tough love.
Third, being too hard on yourself is not acceptable. It is akin to self-harm. There are always more talented, brighter, prettier, faster, whateverer people out there, but there is only one you. You do you and satisfy yourself that you are doing the best you. That’s all. There is nothing more.
Fourth, lay your goals at your feet, not over the horizon. Be realistic and make things achievable. If you want to lose 30 pounds, lose 3 pounds instead, and work on keeping it gone, get used to what it feels like, develop a sense of accomplishment for it, and once you own it, lose another 3. You will soon see that you are very good at losing 3 pounds, and once you’ve made a habit of doing the small things that get you there, 30 pounds will melt away.
If you do not start with yourself, then you cannot expect others to support you in this way. Tough and supple—self-love begins there.