Saturday, January 2, 2010

Be polite—to yourself

We would never tell our best friend that she has walrus thighs, that the last thing she said was so incredibly stupid that people just can't wait to get away from her, or that she's hopelessly clumsy and uncoordinated when she drops something. Yet we subject ourselves to a never-ending barrage of criticism in our internal dialogue with ourselves. Would you try to motivate a child by telling her she's stupid? Would having her start every sentence with I'm sorry, or maybe, or this is probably wrong build her self-esteem? If your child's teacher tried that, you'd be planning a lawsuit against the school district.

So here's the deal. All those people who told you to "be nice" when you were growing up forgot two important words: to yourself. Maybe you're lucky enough to be surrounded by a cheerleading squad of friends who remind you how wonderful (or at least okay) you are at regular intervals. If that's you, then go gloat while the rest of us figure out how to cheerlead for ourselves. How crazy is it that we are mean spirited, sniping, critical, and belittling to the only person that can fulfill our dreams? Did Cinderella bitch out her fairy godmother for being too fat? Her momma didn't raise any fool, and neither did yours. She just neglected to tell you that your fairy godmother resides in your very own head. Think back to the last time you accomplished something you were proud of. Would it have happened if you hadn't set your mind to it? Of course not.

Support is great but your accomplishments are the product of your strengths, and happened on days when you felt good about yourself and treated yourself like your own best friend. So, okay, how do you start being nicer to yourself? This is a skill that can be learned like anything else. Start by getting your body to

feel as good as it can in the morning. There's nothing like waking up in the morning feeling like you got hit by a truck during the night to set you off on a harangue against yourself. If you wake up in low blood sugar, you can almost guarantee yourself a bad day. By the time you eat some breakfast, you've already found ten things to be mad at yourself about. If you choose to eat sweets, and this includes foods that are mainly flour-based, make sure that you don't eat them after 7pm (six would be better) and that you eat protein at the same meal. If you indulge later in the evening, (which I strongly suggest you don't do if you have plans for the next day that require you to be at your best), make sure to eat some almonds or other unsalted nuts before you go to bed. Nuts aren't on your diet? Be honest...neither was that dessert, more than likely. While you're learning to be nice to yourself, it's more important to insure that you wake up with energy and a positive attitude than it is to save a few calories. Any good nutritional guide can explain why eating high carbohydrate foods before sleeping plays havoc with your blood glucose levels. Most of us have figured out that eating candy or bread at 3pm when we start to lose steam after a busy day means we'll be even more ravenous at dinner. The temporary lift we get from sugar last only a short time, and our blood sugar drops like a stone a few hours later. Low blood sugar makes you feel foggy and out of focus, and cranky if anyone gets between you and more food. This sets you out first thing with a negative attitude and low energy. Miracles don't happen to cranky people.

This is the body level of learning to be nice to yourself. As you're passing up on the sweets, or getting some protein or nuts in your system before you go to sleep, tell yourself you're doing it as a favor to the self you're going to be in the morning. Tomorrow, the next level of learning.

No comments: