You wouldn’t do that to a friend. Why do it to yourself?

“Think of it this way: If you got a flat tire, what would you do? Change the tire? Or get out of the car and slash the other three tires? No! Get back on the road. Don’t dwell on it, don’t beat yourself up. That gets you nowhere.”
Jillian Michaels interview, by Amy Spencer,
Redbook, October 2011

I figure God’s trying to tell me something when I hear it twice in a short period of time. If I still have doubts, he’ll make sure he gets my attention by saying it a third time. Maybe even a fourth!

The message I received loud and clear?  Be kind and compassionate to yourself.

1. Other than the Redbook article quoted above, following are three more ways I received the message in a span of two days.

2. Relaxation Meditation Class – Tue, Oct 18
I reluctantly participated in a relaxation meditation class during a photo shoot I arranged at work this week. I entered into it with a bit of trepidation. As a Christian, I am nervous about opening myself up to spiritual exercises that do not involve Jesus Christ. So I put my filter on and had an amazing, unexpected, meaningful experience. During the class, the instructor took us through a series of steps to the point where I felt weightless and calm (e.g. tensing each limb, then relaxing it—everywhere from toe to head).  She had us imagine that our mind was a beautiful lake high up on a mountain, and that our thoughts were birds flying above the surface. When she instructed us to focus on the source of love—“whatever that is to you”—I thought about Jesus, of his light, and how he redeemed my life from the pit. Of my Mom’s face when she used to look at me with love and pride (she’s in heaven now). Of my husband’s face when he is laughing at something I said. The instructor had a soothing voice, and I felt safe. At one point, she said, “Be kind and compassionate…” My brain filled in the rest: “to others.” But she paused a few moments and then finished her sentence: “…to yourself.” Oh!

3. “Back Sliders” Kaiser Permanente ad heard on the radio – Wed, Oct 19
“…one trip to the back slider’s club doesn’t make you a loser. It just makes you human.”

4. Lindora Free Webinar: Women’s Weight Loss and Well-Being – Wed, Oct 19
One slide in the presentation read, “Handle with care.” The presenter went on to say, “Be kind and compassionate to yourself. You wouldn’t talk that way to a friend! If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.”

The last time I really messed up on my program unintentionally, without thinking about it, was a birthday party at work on October 7. I ate two small pieces of cake. I tore myself to shreds the rest of the afternoon. And then I beat myself up even more for beating myself up and not having a constructive attitude about it! It was a downward spiral. Good thing was, I got right back on plan for dinner that night, and then the next day, and beyond. I have since eaten off program, but it has been intentional… and combined with eating right most of the time and diligently exercising, I’m still losing weight. (Two pounds lost at weigh in on Thursday!)

When you really mess up, which of the following do you choose to do?

A. Lie to yourself & justify your actions
“I ate that cake without thinking. So what? I deserved it. It was a special occasion.  Cake doesn’t come along every day. “

B. Beat yourself up
“Why did I eat that cake? I’m such an idiot. I can’t control myself. I’m such a freakin’ pig. What was I thinking?”

C. Be kind and compassionate to yourself
“I wish I hadn’t eaten that cake without thinking. Next time I’ll think about it first and make sure I really want to do that. No serious damage done. Bygones!”

My usual M.O. has been to choose A or B. My goal is to choose C from now on.

It goes without saying that being kind and compassionate to yourself goes way beyond eating right and exercising. Being kind and compassionate to yourself doesn’t mean you are in denial about a choice you’ve made. It doesn’t mean you get to justify your actions or act like a victim. It means you have to be real with yourself, acknowledge what you’ve done, learn from your mistakes, and MOVE ON.

Let the four messages I received be one message for you: Be kind and compassionate to yourself.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8 (NIV)