March 19, 2016

Changing habits – a different “how to”

Let’s be real – changing habits is really hard. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible or that you shouldn’t try, but it does mean that if you can show yourself some compassion when you don’t magically change your behaviours overnight or aren’t consistent all the time (who is?!), the process will be far less painful, seem more do-able, and it’s actually more likely that you’ll manage to make some changes over time if it doesn’t feel like you’re going to war with yourself.

So, let’s assume you’ve identified the habit you want to change, and you know it’s going to be challenging, but the self compassion part – that’s also challenging sometimes! That’s normal, it is for all of us! But we can practice. And keep practicing.

My best advice is that if you’re struggling to change a habit, try to remind yourself of all the habits you do already have that are helpful for you (eg my life isn’t a complete disaster just because I don’t always go to bed as early as I’d like, there are plenty of other things that I do have a handle on, such as xyz). Try making a list of these things you’re already doing well!

And try to remember it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get it right for a little while, or every time. Small improvements are improvements too.

On that note, small improvements are often the best improvements to aim for. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater just because you don’t feel up to making a huge change in your habits! Sticking with the going to bed earlier theme, since that’s what I am currently trying to work on, going to bed an hour early is a big change and means cutting back on a lot of things, but ten minutes, well, I can probably do that. Maybe later I can try for another ten minutes but right now, ten minutes would be great.

Remind yourself that change is hard, in real life. We do things a certain way, often because they work for us in certain other ways as well, and often they come from a misguided sense of self protection. That’s perfectly normal because we are creatures who don’t want to be eaten by wolves! If you can figure out, from a compassionate place, just why it is that you find the thing hard to change or find yourself resistant to change, be compassionate with the answer you find. Coax yourself along gently. You’re a human, being a human is hard, being a human trying to do things differently is hard, but you can do hard things if you are gentle with yourself.

Be gentle with yourself.

PS check out the work of Dr Kristin Neff if you’re interested in learning more about self compassion! It’s some seriously life changing stuff!

PPS I’m putting together a little newsletter to email out! Enter your details and the word “newsletter” here if you want to receive it when it’s done 🙂

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