As it turns out, science tells us that we’re more likely to reach our eating, fitness and other goals if we’re self-compassionate than if we’re self-condemning. Because self-condemnation and negative self-talk make us feel badly about ourselves, they generate more despair and hopelessness which make us want to give up pursuing our goals. But, because positive self-talk, including self-compassion, causes us to feel more buoyant and hopeful, it helps keep us wanting to treat ourselves better.
Related to myth #2 is the third myth about how success happens. Most of us were taught to focus on our mistakes. If that means learning what we did wrong and applying it to the future, all well and good. But, too often it means to think more about what we did wrong than about what we did right. We know from success psychology that this is the exact wrong way to go about pursuing goals. The right way is to focus on small successes and what we’re doing right.
It also includes not obsessing about what we didn’t do or what we have left to do. So, if you choose healthful foods most of the time during the week, that’s what you want to remember. You don’t want to ruminate about that Saturday night ice cream binge you had because you were lonely. You want to feel good about the fact that you went out to dinner with a friend Sunday night and ate reasonably well according to your appetite. You also don’t want to torture yourself with the fact that you only swam twice this week rather than the three times you promised yourself you would. The idea is to feel good about what you did do, not badly about what you didn’t do.
Myth #4 is about your ultimate goal. If it’s losing and keeping off pounds or inches, the chances of you succeeding are poorer than if it’s taking excellent care of yourself mentally, emotionally and physically 24/7/365. This is because you can be healthy and fit at higher weights and unhealthy at lower weights.
A healthy self (or as healthy as you can get it) is the finest goal you can have and it’s built on the foundation of self-love. Loving yourself leads to wanting to do right by you all the time. It’s not about losing weight so that your children will get off your back or proving to your younger friends that you can keep up with them. Nor is it about getting praise from your trainer for the “good” job you’re doing or showing off how great you look at your 50th high school reunion. These kinds of goals come and go, but loving and caring effectively for yourself guarantees that no matter how old you get, you’ll always take the best care of yourself that you possibly can. Why wouldn’t you?