How to Take the First Step

They say that when you’re trying to (re)establish an exercise habit, the hardest thing is getting out the door. After all, once you’re out of the house dressed in workout gear, you’re probably going to go to the gym. It’s the getting out, that first step, that is so difficult.

The same is true for other changes you might want to implement. When you want to start speaking more kindly to yourself, the first step of noticing the critical voice is often the one we struggle with most. When you want to start going to the gym it’s an external habit; so you can put systems in place to support yourself. You can lay out your clothes the night before, put your gym bag by the front door or set your alarm to get up 30 minutes earlier.

Trying to speak more kindly to yourself is an internal habit, so the support system looks different – but it does exist, and it looks a little something like this:

First: Start by cultivating awareness.
We cannot change what we do not acknowledge. To begin to tune into that critical inner voice that we all have, check out what goes through your mind when you make a mistake or feel frustrated. This voice is probably speaking more than you realize and once you learn what it says. you can tune into it more often.

Second: Use compassion.
If hating ourselves created change, we’d all be perfect by now! When you notice that critical voice, greet it with compassion. Instead of being frustrated that it exists or trying to bully it into submission, give it some love. Have compassion for it – that voice is trying to keep you safe, and though its methods are questionable, it’s motivation is safety.

Third: Step into courage.
Even when you want to do something differently, there’s comfort in staying the same. Get courageous and tell yourself something different. If you notice that your inner voice tells you that your project will never impress the client, courageously step into the possibility that it will. Consider the possibility that the client will love your work. Consider the possibility that they’ll be super impressed and you’ll have done a great job. No fake mantras here, just the courageous choice to consider that something good is possible.

Celebrate the courageous step you took, no matter what the outcome. You just did the thing! You noticed your inner critical voice, treated it with compassion and courageously stepped into a different way of speaking to yourself. CELEBRATE YOURSELF! Give yourself the credit you deserve for making this change. The more you celebrate yourself, the more likely you are to stick with your new system.

Want a quick way to remember this? Think of the 3 Cs: compassion, courage, celebrate. Once you’ve got the awareness around the internal dialog you’d like to shift, using the 3Cs will create the framework to help you make that change.

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