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Food for Thought: Evaluate Your Life

Learning and Development Specialist Natalie Papini reminds us of the importance of accepting yourself as you are, being kind to yourself and staying positive on Evaluate Your Life Day.

Did you know that October 19th is ‘Evaluate Your Life Day’!? Maybe you’ve been waiting for this day all year or maybe, like me, you just found out that this is an actual thing. We’ve talked before about the importance of reflecting on your goals, desires, and core values and how they relate to your Profile journey.

While it is crucial to identify your core values and use them to help you make your everyday lifestyle choices, it’s also important to treat yourself with kindness. When you think about evaluations, its likely that things like job performance or finances come to mind, but how often do you take a step back to evaluate the way you treat yourself? Here are two things to consider in order to develop a mentality that will allow you to positively celebrate ‘Evaluate Your Life Day’ and focus on how far you’ve come rather than how far you still have left to go:

1. Self-Acceptance
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I am free to change.” –Carl Rogers

The message here is simple: when you accept who you are and where you are in your journey, you are liberated to move forward to where you want to be. How much time and energy do you waste dwelling on your current situation (eating habits, weight, level of activity, etc,) in comparison to the habits you envision for yourself at your goal weight? How many times do you browse social media, only to compare yourself to others and make yourself feel inadequate?

In a society preoccupied with self-loathing and constant evaluation of how you stack up against your peers, you can choose to accept who you are in this moment instead of fixating on who you are not. The energy you expend obsessing over the reasons you’re not meeting your self-imposed standards can be redirected toward making a positive change. When you refuse to accept who you are right now, you put undue pressure on yourself that is often the very thing that will keep you from changing for the better.

2. Self-Kindness
When was the last time you treated yourself as you would treat a good friend? Let’s use the following scenario to illustrate this concept: You had every intention of getting to the gym this morning before work, but the snooze alarm lured you back into bed, and before you knew what happened, it was time to get to the office.

How you respond to yourself can ebb and flow between being your own worst critic to being a kind and understanding friend (and everything in between). Let’s take a look at the differences between the following self-talk: “I’m a lazy slob and it’s no wonder I’m not losing weight as fast as I want to,” or “I must have been really tired! I know I can get to the gym at a later time if I choose to do so. Sleep and being well-rested is really important too.”

When confronted with a situation like this, ask yourself in the moment “What would I say to my best friend if he or she found themselves in this situation?” Chances are, you would opt to be supportive instead of calling them “lazy slobs.” If this is so, then why is it acceptable to say those things to yourself? Research suggests that people believe they need to be self-critical to remain motivated under the false assumption that they would be self-indulgent and lazy if they were to show themselves the same kindness, care, and concern that they show others.

In reality, findings indicate that individuals who treat themselves in a kind way experience fewer bad feelings and, in turn, engage in healthier behaviors. Research* shows that self-criticism actually works against you to undermine your motivation to change. One way to jump-start your Profile journey is to let go of being the “bad cop” and start giving yourself the empathy, warmth, and acceptance you give to others.

So on this day (and every day for that matter) as you evaluate your life, be kind to yourself. Doing so will transform the way you feel about yourself and help you obtain the resolve it takes to navigate your journey successfully and arrive at the place you envisioned when you started.

Davidson, R. (2007, Oct.). Changing the Brain by Transforming the Mind. The Impact of Compassion Training on the Neural Systems of Emotion. Paper presented at the 13th annual Mind and Life Institute Conference, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.
Rockliff, H., Gilbert, P., McEwan, K., Lightman, S., & Glover, D. (2008). A pilot exploration of heart rate variability and salivary cortisol responses to compassion-focused imagery. Journal of Clinical Neuropsychiatry, 5(3), 132-139.
Rockliff, H., Karl, A., McEwan, K., Gilbert, J., Matos, M., & Gilbert, P. (2011). Effects of Intranasal Oxytocin on ‘Compassion Focused Imagery’. Emotion. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0023861