Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Quitter’s Circle, a collaboration between the American Lung Association and Pfizer. All thoughts and opinions presented in this post are purely my own.
I’m confident I don’t need to tell you about how we can be our own harshest critics.
If a friend brought any of us the same problems with which we are currently struggling, we’d approach it very differently.
We’d gently and kindly remind her She’s got this.
We’d aid her in reframing her fears.
We’d highlight all she does which is amazing and how small this is in the scope of her as a whole.
When it’s our lives, however, it can be a tremendous challenge not to think catastrophically.
Instead of one struggle we want to overcome, the “bad” becomes all-encompassing and suddenly all-defining of who we are.
If our aforementioned friend were making a big life change – – farewell fast food! sayonara smoking! —we’d be able to approach analytically and without emotional attachment.
When it’s our lives, everything feels more complicated.
We become singularly focused on the negative and can slip into the mindset of the fact we are nothing more than our downside.
We lose sight of our many positive qualities/traits and evaluate ourselves only through the lens of current success or failure in breaking our habit.
We transform into Suzie the Smoker. Paula the Procrastinator. Faye the Fast Food Lover.
We are so much more.
Not only am I here to remind you of this fact, but I’ve also created a three-step process for us to shake this mindset.
An approach to use during the moments when we forget and focus solely on the small piece of ourselves we long to change.
1. Examine who you currently are.
Pause, step back and look at who you are as a whole. Examine your likes and dislikes (I love to read. I enjoy indulging in reality TV. I’m not a fan of scary movies).
Consider what experiences/interactions/people make you feel motivated and inspired.
Reflect on the last time you felt utter joy–what was happening in your life?
Ask yourself when you last felt stress-free. What did your world look like in that moment?
Create for yourself a picture (written, drawn or merely mental) of who you are as a whole.
2. Reflect upon who you used to be.
What used to bring you joy? What actions or experiences used to elicit happiness? What activities used to spark feelings of connection?
Brainstorm as many things as you can think of which you used to love, but haven’t made time for in a while. My coaching clients often approach this exercise by creating a written timeline beginning with childhood passions and progressing through adulthood.
From playing kickball with friends to chalk art on the driveway, list absolutely everything you can remember.
3. Ignoring the negative is challenging, but embracing the positive is simultaneously a powerful opportunity.
It’s a new chance to revisit old passions.
It’s a time to realize how vast and varied our interests are.
It’s the freedom to examine other more positive habits with fresh eyes and re-integrate these into the space we’re creating in our lives.
Rather than defining yourself narrowly by the negativity you’re seeking to shed– how about joining me in redefining ourselves and seizing this opportunity to more deeply explore who we really are.
For example, if you’re trying to quit smoking, recognize the challenge of quitting, and how powerful and strong you are to take it on! Assess your strengths that make quitting possible, and use your personal support systems or online resources like Quitter’s Circle and seize your powerful opportunities head-on!
Remember: you can do this.
Bea saysApril 19, 2017 at 4:14 am
This is good stuff!
When I was trying to lose 100 pounds I was desperate for other passions than food (I am a foodie).
Somehow I rediscoverd my love of hooping and it’s become my new go to thing when I really want to stuff my face LOL
Annmarie saysApril 19, 2017 at 5:06 am
Lately, I have been focusing a lot on the negative. It hasn’t made me pessimistic as much as it has made me stressed. I really need to take a step back and just enjoy where I am in the moment and appreciate all my hard work.
Cate saysApril 19, 2017 at 5:15 am
I cannot really identify the last time I felt utter joy.
My focus has become really narrow when it comes my weight loss. And I think I’m in the place where even when I lose weight and the scale goes down it’s not enough. I keep thinking I will feel happy when I lose my weight and maintain for a while.
Valerie saysApril 19, 2017 at 5:26 am
I don’t know what bizarre synchronicity it is that makes your posts always just what I need to hear, but I love it. Never stop it.
I need to do some redefining of myself right now as I’ve hit a roadblock or two that have set me back in the self-love department. And as you know, I can slip into that downward spiral of seeing only the things that are wrong pretty quickly. Your post was like a very gentle nudge sideways out of the spiral, so thanks. ?
And I think I’m referring my MIL to Quitter’s Circle, BTW. She’s tried so hard to quit smoking and it may be just exactly the support she needs.
Coco saysApril 19, 2017 at 5:45 am
This is so true. When I am trying to make or break a habit, I feel like a “failure” based on that single goal.
Izzy saysApril 19, 2017 at 5:48 am
I can’t find the post, but I remember you talking about making tangible paper loops when you work to change a habit?
I started doing that and it helps me not to feel like a failure because I can see how many days I’ve been successful even when I screw everything up.
Pamela Lutrell saysApril 19, 2017 at 6:10 am
Such a great message to begin my day and I need it. There is one old habit I continue to do…emotional eating! Thanks for the encouragement, Carla!
Carla saysApril 19, 2017 at 1:00 pm
Stay strong. You can do it, Pamela!
acktive life saysApril 19, 2017 at 6:46 am
LOVE this! Who I am right now and who I currently was a year ago is HUGE! I have learned. I have made mistakes. I have grown. It has taken a HELL of a lot of time and love and nourishing, but it was all worth it, because I have arrived. I love this post Carla! xoxo
Carla saysApril 19, 2017 at 1:01 pm
That’s something to celebrate. Take a moment to recognize your accomplishments so far!
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home saysApril 19, 2017 at 7:04 am
Wow. Perfect post for where I’m at right now. Even tho I have no control over what’s happening inside my body, I feel that I’m failing at everything right now. It’s hard to go from being superwoman to not. My family is struggling with it too.
Carla saysApril 19, 2017 at 12:58 pm
I’m sorry to hear that. I know it’s difficult.
Evie saysApril 19, 2017 at 7:16 am
I’m grateful to see this post and your other one talking about smoking.
Sometimes I feel like I can’t ask people for help when I’m trying to quit because my habit is so shameful. And I know I will probably fail again.
It seems even wanting to lose weight isn’t looked down upon 🙁
Shari Broder saysApril 19, 2017 at 7:48 am
Evie, believe you can do it. If you start thinking you’ll fail again, you’ll only prove yourself right.
Carla saysApril 19, 2017 at 12:57 pm
I love all of this positive encouragement!
Carla saysApril 19, 2017 at 12:58 pm
Quitting smoking can be really difficult, but it can be done. If you’re looking for additional helpful resources or a little extra support, you should definitely check out QuittersCircle.com.
Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner saysApril 19, 2017 at 7:53 am
I am my own worst enemy for sure! I could do with a little more of focus on the positive and remind myself to do that daily.
Carla saysApril 19, 2017 at 12:59 pm
Keep following. There’s plenty more to come.
Debbie saysApril 19, 2017 at 8:07 am
Thanks for these tips. If we could just listen to ourselves and take our own advice, we would have much more self confidence and success.
Carol A Cassara saysApril 19, 2017 at 8:14 am
I think that with age we begin to see ourselves more clearly. I hope that’s true, anyway, because rampant insecurity in the elderly is not fun!
Lila saysApril 19, 2017 at 9:55 am
I hope that is true, too!!
Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au saysApril 19, 2017 at 8:16 am
Carla you are such an inspiration – I just wish I’d known you ten or more years ago. I had to figure a lot of this stuff out by myself and it would have been so much better to have had it laid out like this for me to get my head around!
Leanne | cresting the hill
Paula Kiger saysApril 19, 2017 at 8:37 am
Great, inspirational reminders Carla – thanks!
Tamara saysApril 19, 2017 at 8:58 am
Super thought-provoking. I work with many women who are emotional eaters. I think that one of the hardest elements for them to overcome is the feeling of shame associated with the behaviour. I love your three-step approach and plan to share it with a few of them personally. Thanks!
Carla saysApril 19, 2017 at 1:02 pm
Thanks for the feedback, Tamara!
Shauna saysApril 19, 2017 at 9:21 am
That is an awesome 1-2-3 right there! Definitely have a pile of passions I need to rekindle 🙂
Michele saysApril 19, 2017 at 9:31 am
Thanks for the reminder!
Lila saysApril 19, 2017 at 9:55 am
It does feel more complicated when it’s our own life, doesn’t it?
My secret shame is I help others do what I am struggling with myself.
I keep waiting for the day I can listen to my own advice.
Elle saysApril 19, 2017 at 10:05 am
It is hard sometimes not to define myself by my mistakes and failings. So much nice and more uplifting to think about successes and goals… face forward and not back. Thanks for the reminder! And for being so real and raw, too.
Carla saysApril 19, 2017 at 1:03 pm
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Elle!
AlexandraFunFit saysApril 19, 2017 at 10:11 am
In 2016 I was overwhelmed and lost my joy as a result. In 2017 I decided to focus on joy and gratitude for the things I COULD control, and my life got good again.
Yolanda saysApril 19, 2017 at 10:53 am
“Assess your strengths that make quitting possible ”
I need to remind myself of this when I feel weak. I think I need to make a list of the strengths so I can easily remember.
Abbey Sharp saysApril 19, 2017 at 11:55 am
Thanks so much for the post. I think we could all benefit from so more self-love and positive self-talk because we’re awesome!
Susan saysApril 19, 2017 at 1:03 pm
If only we could be better friends to ourselves. Need to put this post on repeat!
Jessica @ Nutritioulicious saysApril 19, 2017 at 1:04 pm
This is such an important topic, especially for women who often focus on the negative rather than all the positives. It’s a great reminder to treat yourself the way you would treat a friend.
Laurie Stone saysApril 19, 2017 at 4:12 pm
Carla, Its easy to focus on the negatively, unfortunately. I do it all the time. Thank you for this reminder to look behind us sometimes. Its amazing how high we’ve climbed and not realize it.
Jody - Fit at 59 saysApril 19, 2017 at 5:35 pm
I know I am my own worst enemy always….. my mind is always going to all my mistakes that took me here… catch 22 – I try – I go forward, I fall back but more I just get caught in a loop but I keep trying.
Carla saysApril 20, 2017 at 4:00 am
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jody! I’m sorry to hear that. I know it’s difficult.
Lindsay Cotter saysApril 19, 2017 at 6:10 pm
Yes, this is a must! —> “Ignoring the negative is challenging, but embracing the positive is simultaneously a powerful opportunity. “My focus lately. Well, always.. trying.
Thank you for your insight and wisdom Carla! Y
Carla saysApril 20, 2017 at 3:58 am
I’m glad you enjoyed it.
messymimi saysApril 19, 2017 at 6:19 pm
When it’s our stuff, it feels different, too. It’s much easier to clean and clear out someone else’s stuff.
Excellent advice, i need to stop and think about when was the last time i was not very stressed. Probably last vacation.
Carmy @ carmyy.com saysApril 19, 2017 at 7:55 pm
Such a great article! Honestly, I am so hard on myself that sometimes I definitely need to take a step back.
Alana Mautone (@RamblinGarden) saysApril 19, 2017 at 8:32 pm
I indulge in stress and emotional eating and I’ve struggled with weight due to these habits for years. When I was at my maximum weight, I hated myself. I have had to learn to love myself all over again, even though I am regaining weight that I struggled to get off. No more self-loathing!
Sarah saysApril 19, 2017 at 10:13 pm
Great timing as I’ve had a lot of negative thinking since being sick last month, then injury, and just a lot of not so good things all happening at once and they are taking a toll on me emotionally. Since I couldn’t work out for 4 weeks and slowly getting back into it adding a day each week I’m hoping to be back to my “regular” schedule this week but yet I’m not 100% back to myself. The negative thoughts have been stressing me out and as much as I try to focus on the positive I can do that in so many areas other then myself.
Carla saysApril 20, 2017 at 3:58 am
Thanks for reading, Sarah! I’m glad you liked my post!
Susie @ Suzlyfe saysApril 20, 2017 at 5:21 am
See my post for today. Enough said.
Cathy Lawdanski saysApril 20, 2017 at 5:53 am
Thank you for this, Carla. Have been feeling down about progress I am making in a certain area. We DO get so focused on that one thing, rather than all the good things. Great questions to ask ourselves.
dixya @food, pleasure, and health saysApril 20, 2017 at 6:59 am
#3 is such a big one…we tend to see more negatives than positives, even if it is little ones, we should be grateful.
Chrissy @ Snacking in Sneakers saysApril 20, 2017 at 7:42 am
This was something I needed to read today. I’ve been having a hard time with focusing on the negative, and you’re right – if we were talking to a friend, we’d never be as harsh as we are on ourselves!
Lois Alter Mark saysApril 20, 2017 at 9:03 am
Wow, every woman needs to read this post! We are always so hard on ourselves and I love that you said we would never act that way to our friends. We would be supportive and encouraging. Great perspective, which I’m going to try to remember next time I’m yelling at myself.
Carla saysApril 20, 2017 at 9:07 am
Thanks for reading, Lois! I’m glad you liked my post!
Dana saysApril 20, 2017 at 9:29 am
This is so true. I always tell my girls to try and look at themselves with the same kind eyes they use to look at others. It is so hard to watch my daughters struggle with this. I am determined to have them live a more peaceful life than I have – so I continue to try and model the behavior. It should be so easy
Carol ("Mimi") saysApril 20, 2017 at 9:51 am
I smoked all through my 20’s and into my 30’s. I quit about 12 times. Quitting was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Thanks for a great post. Your suggestions about positive self-talk are so important.
Carla saysApril 20, 2017 at 9:58 am
Carol, thank you for sharing your quit smoking journey!
Kristina @ Love & Zest saysApril 20, 2017 at 11:46 am
A little progress every day adds up to great results. Never give up trying and you’ve won more than you think. I think this post resonates with so many people and really mirrors struggles that we’ve all faced. A little perseverance goes a long way.
Diana Frajman saysApril 20, 2017 at 12:21 pm
You know, I was just thinking this very thing yesterday. Why is it we can clearly see, and solve the issues of others but when it comes to ourselves, we hit a brick wall.
The one thing that gets me through a stressful time is to remember, “This too shall pass.”
Thanks for the great advice.
Esther saysApril 20, 2017 at 4:43 pm
Sooooo good! It’s so easy to focus on the negative!
That’s for the reminder to focus on what we can do!!
And I’d love to return to my last no-stress environment! An island off the coast of Costa Rica!!
Rebecca | NOURISHED. saysApril 20, 2017 at 8:17 pm
Very insightful piece, Carla! I agree with you . Who we are and who we were can be very different–Even on a day-to-day basis. While there are sometimes days where I don’t think I’m fulfilling my goals, I think we can find success in seeing that even the smallest positive change today impacts who I am tomorrow. Even just making the effort tends to make me feel good.
Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious saysApril 21, 2017 at 3:32 pm
“Who you are now versus who you were a year ago.” SO POWERFUL!!! Friend I think this is one of your best posts I’ve read.
Christian Chavez saysApril 27, 2017 at 2:30 am
Truly inspirational article Carla. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.
Farrah saysApril 30, 2017 at 10:45 pm
Thank you for these lovely reminders–they’re all so, so important! I was deifnitely feeling a lot more negative a couple weeks ago, but stepping back and clearing my head really helped! (As did the vacation that followed my least favorite rotation! 😛 )