You, the Habits, and the Inner Critic
So, a few weeks ago, I was in Vegas for a corporate training. I will admit that I got really anxious and I freaked out a bit one night as a few friends and I was walking on the strip. I realized that it was 9:15pm and we were blocks away from the hotel and my target bedtime of 10pm was in danger of not being reached. I panicked. I broke from the group and made a beeline for the hotel in an effort to go straight to bed.
I did get a few strange looks from my friends as I left them, but all I could think about was going to bed- no exceptions to my new habits. I was feeling overwhelmed by the barrage of bright lights, alcohol, showgirls, and music. I felt so anxious that I couldn’t even focus on hanging out with my friends, but I also felt like maintaining my habits was my main goal because I had come so far in my journey to best health.
The next night, we were going to an amazing festival in the desert. Before we left for the festival, I gave myself a pep talk. I reminded myself that the goal of the habits is not to create strict rules and punishable expectations, but rather to feel better in mind and body. I gave myself permission to have fun and to let go of worry around bedtime as this festival with my friends was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I said out loud a few times as I was getting ready that I was going to have “so much fun” and “relax into the experience”. I also reassured myself that it’s okay to go to bed later on occasion and that this one was definitely going to be worth it.
So, we got on the bus to the desert, we launched paper lanterns with our hopes and dreams on them and I had an amazing time! I relaxed into making memories with my friends, setting intentions, and when it was all over, I even got in bed at 11pm. A little late, but not bad. I trusted that it would all be okay and that I didn’t have to be so rigid. It worked. The next night, I was back on my usual bedtime and all was well.
I work on following my habits with regularity but also softness and ease. This can be hard. Can you relate? What if we were able to open ourselves to using the habits as a guideline for better mental and physical health, but also enjoying life and trying to let go of the habits of rigidity? In doing this, we can find more ease and more softness in ourselves and with others. And we can recognize that aiming for a B- in our efforts is awesome as well.
As I have been practicing the habits, I have become aware of the difference that going to bed earlier highlights in my mood, my energy levels, my ability to think clearly, and the levels of inflammation in my body. Going to bed just before 10pm is magical in how much of a shift occurs in my experience of life the next day. It has been a game changer for me and many others I know who follow the daily habits for thrive. While it is a habit for life, going to bed before 10pm every single night of my life would mean giving up lots of special moments that happen with friends and loved ones (like the one in the desert). So I aim for a B-.
I, for one, pride myself on doing things that I am passionate about full out. No holds barred. Kicking its ass. Aiming for a B- can be way out of our comfort zone when we are in the habit of practicing perfectionism.
So, the hard work is in doing our best, but not expecting perfect. Showing up and trying every single day along with the group. We have to retrain the thoughts that tell us that we will only be accepted and loved if we perform perfectly. In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene’ Brown states that “Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance.” She goes on to describe a belief that is typically formed in childhood around worth being tied to performance: “I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it.”
Instead of striving to improve, perfectionism is actually about striving to impress. Well, crap.
Brene’ says that:
“when we become more loving and compassionate with ourselves, and we begin to practice shame resilience, we can embrace our imperfections.”
I notice in teaching the habits that shared struggles can actually make the connection among the group even stronger. It is so helpful for us to see how others have overcome the hurdles and to remember that we are all on this journey together in a real and raw way, but when we share that with the group, we get stronger.
What if we chose to extend empathy to both ourselves and others when we achieve less than 100%? What if we let go of the expectation that it should be perfect? Let go of the pushing, prodding, judging, and punishing ourselves silently when things aren’t going as well as they possibly could? What if we recognized that we are human and celebrate just doing our best? Ah, the possibilities! And the relief.
Maybe you are experiencing something similar in your life. I would love to hear about it. You aren’t alone and you are awesome as someone who strives for a B-. No judgment needed.
About the Yoga Health Coaching Blogger
Kelly works as a Mental Health Therapist and Certified Yoga Therapist in Tennessee and north Mississippi. Her goal is really for everyone to feel happier and healthier in their minds and bodies. She travels as a Senior Master Trainer for YogaFit Systems Worldwide and certifies yoga instructors internationally in vinyasa yoga as well as yoga to address specialty and mental health issues. Kelly’s newest passion is running an online 12-week course based on the Body Thrive habits and her pastimes include walking her dogs, chanting mantra, and laughing. Find Kelly through her Website, on Facebook, or on Instagram.
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