How I learned to minimize self-torture
what if you could avoid a large portion of your daily struggle?
I don't believe that you can just think your way out of pain.
I also don't believe that you are the cause of your own troubles. You are dealing with nuanced circumstances, which are at varying levels in or out of your control, that affect your ability to feel your best.
But you likely have a long history of making things harder on yourself by ruminating, worrying, and just generally torturing yourself. And if there's a way to avoid that extra exhaustion, I say, why not give it a try?
we stress out partially because we are too focused on where we want to go and not enough on how we want to get there.
Knowing my readers, you are ambitious, thoughtful, slight (or major) perfectionists, who feel eager to fix whatever's not working in your life. You're like me! That's why we go so well together.
And in order to get to the daily existence you desire, you need a picture in your mind of what that is - your goal or vision.
A couple of years ago, I wanted to get healthier. I wanted to feel good about what I ate and how I moved and how I felt in my body. My vision was clear: I knew what I wanted (to feel more fit) and why I wanted it (to have more stamina and love for my body) and what would change when I got it (I would feel happier physically and emotionally).
I worked really hard. I read all of the blogs about healthy eating, I convinced myself to train for a half marathon, I thought a lot about positive body image and tried to shed the ridiculous beauty standards that made me feel "less-than".
These were mostly good things! In many ways, I was working toward my goal and getting what I wanted. Maybe I would have eventually gotten to the place where I felt good in my body, didn't feel burdened by negative media images, and could run long distance.
But there was so much noise in my head.
I felt confused about what strategies were right for me (was it "working"? was I being true to my values? was I doing it for me and not others?). I was putting in so much work for an outcome that was supposed to make me feel happier, but the process was not happy. I felt low confidence and high burden and definitely no ease of any kind.
This is what we regularly do to ourselves.
For the sake of making good changes, we torture ourselves. Why do we try to get happier in a way that makes us unhappy?
Personally, I had never known any other way.
But I was about to.
I found coaching when a colleague and I ran into each other both sipping breakfast smoothies as we walked down our office hallway. She said, "My health coach has the best recipes!" I said, "Health coach? Whoa, I think I need one of those."
She gave me her coach's contact number and thus began years of transformation that started with my relationship to my body, but that ultimately led me to a completely new relationship to the process of making change in my life.
We self-torture by obsessing over what we want to change.
And we forget that most of our days consist of the journey, not the destination. It's a well-known cliche and yet we have a hard time appreciating the process of trying.
The reason I love coaching so much is because I get to see my clients shift from being grounded solely in outcome to being grounded in who they want to be along the way. They are vision-rooted and process-oriented.
I could have reached some level of satisfaction with my body and my relationship to it on my own.
But I would never have learned how to be proud, curious, welcoming, compassionate, and certain of myself along the way like I am able to be now.
With that, here are 2 ways you can minimize your self-torture right now:
1. Check out my one-on-one coaching packages. Let me give you confidence, clarity, and self-compassion - instead of noise - while you create a more intentional life.
2. To do a little reflection on your own, grab a pen and paper...
First, think about something you are working toward and ask yourself: Why do I want this? What do I think will change? How will it make me feel?
Then, check in about the ways in which you are trying to achieve that goal. Do they make you feel good? Are you doing them because you think you have to or because you want to? What questions or concerns do you have about your strategies?
Finally, take a few breaths and consider what it would look like if your process was more important than your goal. What would you do differently? How would that feel?
These are not easy questions.
But this shift is possible and it starts by noticing what you do and why you do it.
I would love to hear what came up for you in this reflection. Please comment below or send me an email with your thoughts!