Establishing new habits can be a challenging and sometimes frustrating process. It requires effort, consistency, and often a willingness to step outside of our comfort zones. But perhaps one of the most important factors in developing new habits is being patient and compassionate with ourselves.
Rushing Change and Expecting Perfection Can Backfire
When we set out to create new habits, we often have high expectations for ourselves. We want to see results quickly and can become frustrated when we don't see them. We might beat ourselves up for slip-ups or feel like we're not making progress fast enough. But this kind of negative self-talk can actually be counterproductive and really drain our energy.
Apply Patience and Compassion to Achieve Your Goals
When we're patient and compassionate with ourselves, we approach the process of habit formation with a more positive mindset. We acknowledge that it takes time to build new habits and that we're likely to experience setbacks along the way. We recognize that we're not perfect, and that's okay. By taking this kinder and more understanding approach, we can actually increase our chances of success and keep our energy up instead of draining it over unrealistic expectations.
So why is it so important to be patient and compassionate with ourselves when developing new habits?
1. Creating new habits is a process that takes time. Depending on the habit, it can take weeks or even months to fully establish. For example, research suggests that it can take around 66 days to form a new habit. That's over two months of consistent effort. Knowing this, we need to give ourselves permission to take it slow and recognize that progress may not always be linear. 2. When we're patient and compassionate with ourselves, we're more likely to stick with our new habits. If we're constantly beating ourselves up for slip-ups or lack of progress, we're more likely to give up altogether. On the other hand, if we approach our new habits with a sense of kindness and understanding, we're more likely to stay committed and see the process through. Remember we are trying to achieve something new and if we were already pros at it, we wouldn't have to work on it. 3. Being patient and compassionate with ourselves helps us to cultivate self-compassion, which is an important part of overall wellbeing. Self-compassion is the practice of treating ourselves with the same kindness, concern, and support that we would offer to a good friend. By developing self-compassion, we can reduce stress, increase resilience, and improve our mental health. By becoming more aware of our emotions and energy around our goals will also go a long way to being kinder to ourselves and not creating negative or overwhelming emotional states.
How Can We Practice Being Patient and Compassionate?
Celebrate progress, no matter how small. Instead of focusing on what you haven't accomplished yet, focus on what you have accomplished. Celebrate each small step forward as a win, and use that energy of momentum to keep going.
Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. When you slip up or have a setback, don't beat yourself up. Instead, be gentle with yourself and acknowledge that setbacks are a normal part of the process. Change takes time and these changes involve really understanding and resonating with the new way of doing things to be successful at them.
Focus on the process, not just the outcome. Instead of fixating on the end result, focus on the daily effort you're putting in to establish your new habit. Recognize the small steps you're taking each day and trust that they will add up over time. Sometimes good things become better when you need to spend time and space with them to really sink in. You might find yourself changing in ways you would have not expected or even considered. Perception is everything!!
Practice self-care. Taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally can help you stay patient and compassionate with yourself as you work towards establishing new habits. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Give yourself time and space to fully incorporate these new habits to be able to use them as you intended without finding yourself resenting them or yourself for trying.
Seek support from others. Don't be afraid to ask for help or support from friends, family, or a coach or therapist. Having someone to encourage and motivate you can make all the difference in sticking with your new habits.
Establishing new habits is a process that requires patience, compassion, and self-care. By taking a positive and kind approach to ourselves, we can increase our chances of success and cultivate self-compassion along the way. Remember to celebrate progress, focus on the daily effort, treat ourselves with kindness, and seek support from others when needed. By practicing self-compassion, we can create a positive and sustainable approach to habit formation that will benefit us not just in the short term, but in the long term as well.