This is a guest blog post from one of my Fit Fun Bootcamp instructors Teresa.
If you’re like me, you probably don’t like to make mistakes. You hold yourself to a certain standard, and when you fail to meet that standard, the voice of self-criticism rears its ugly head. The shoulda, woulda, couldas come out in droves. There are a lot of sayings out there about learning from your mistakes, but let’s get real. I think most of us would rather have our lessons come in another shape or form. Mistakes are about as fun to swallow as bitter cherry cough syrup.
Nevertheless, mistakes come with the territory of being a human being. The statistical probability of encountering error increases the longer you live, and the more you live. In other words, if you’re someone who is growing and willing to attempt something potentially challenging like a fitness regimen, a new approach to eating, a new job, parenting, or any meaningful relationship, making a mistake at some point is inevitable.
So the question isn’t how can I be perfect? The question is how can I transform my perception of today and tomorrow’s mistakes? You can berate yourself for having gained 10, 20, or 40 pounds over the past 15 years, or you can ask yourself what those 10, 20, or 40 pounds are trying to say. You can berate yourself for that double-bacon cheeseburger, or for that missed workout, or you can forgive yourself and get back on track. A lot of people let their mistakes and setbacks deter them from their goals. And while self-criticism and anger might motivate you temporarily, it ultimately weighs you down. Long-term motivation and success depends on self-forgiveness.
Here are three things to keep in mind when it comes to self-forgiveness and fitness:
Exchange Mistakes for Meaning Mistakes can break you or make you more self-aware. If you understand what led to a particular mistake or setback in the past, you can develop an alternative game plan for the future. If stress and a lack of sleep have led to missed workouts, what does that mean? What has become a greater priority than your health? Underlying our mistakes there is a message that has applicable meaning to our lives.
Become a Proactive Problem-Solver If your only response to regret is self-criticism, you will only exacerbate any mistake you may have made. After you’ve identified what led to your setback (e.g. stress), commit to action. When it comes to your health and fitness goals, there are so many steps you can take in order to regain your self-assurance. Recommitting to your workout routine, planning your next meal, finding a supportive environment, or reexamining your goals are just a few. Accept that you will make mistakes, but challenge yourself to change. Change is necessary if you want to evolve as a person, and positive change requires a willingness to meet the demands of problem-solving.
Be Your Own Best Friend How would you describe the world’s greatest best friend? You would probably come up with adjectives like kind, compassionate, loyal, and supportive. They would want the best for you, believe in you, and continuously make an effort to be a positive part of your life. Wouldn’t you choose the company of your best friend over the company of your worst critic? When it comes to working out, you have to be your own best friend. Don’t take calls from the voice of self-criticism. Take pride in your efforts and accomplishments! Self-forgiveness is ultimately an act of faith in oneself, and giving oneself another chance to become a healthier human being. So go ahead and let go of that grudge. Forgive yourself. Live a little lighter.