Signs that spring is here to stay and that summer isn’t far behind are coming to life everywhere you look. Some of us may not be feeling our usual “spring cheer” … and that’s okay. The last year has brought unprecedented challenges and changes to all our lives. We could all benefit from a self-care check-in. To be clear, I am NOT a licensed professional counselor, psychologist or healthcare professional. I’m simply someone who reads a lot about behavior and motivation and who has been fumbling toward health and wellness for the past 13+ years. My hope is that the things that help me may also help you in some small way. In an effort to welcome a new season and work toward meaningful change, here are three things I’m leaving behind.
The word “should.” I should work out. I should fold the clean clothes that have been sitting in the laundry basket for five days. I should eat better this week after my calorie-fest of a weekend. Does this sound familiar? More often than not, the word “should” is rooted in guilt and negativity. It implies that whatever you’re doing isn’t enough. Instead, I’ve been trying to focus on why I want (or don’t want) to do a certain task or activity. It’s a work in progress, but I’m slowly de-cluttering my thoughts of lingering “shoulds” that aren’t serving me.
Self-judgment. We are often our own harshest critic and I am very much guilty of this. Rather than focusing on my flaws and insecurities (or letting those pesky “shoulds” creep in), I’m working on building more self-compassion. One exercise that may help is to write a self-compassion letter. Evidence shared by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center found that participants who wrote a self-compassion letter every day for one week reported greater happiness than they had beforehand.
The need to be perfect. Perfection is not possible. And the great thing is, it’s not necessary either. This is something I have to repeat to myself often. The reality is, when you try something new, you probably won’t be very good at it initially. And that’s okay! Don’t let the need to be perfect stand in the way of trying something new or different.
You may have noticed that the word “work” is mentioned in this post multiple times. All of this takes a lot of self-reflection, patience and, yes, work. And speaking with a licensed professional counselor can help you arm yourself with the tools you need to do this work. Remember that you are worth it.