self-esteem

Willpower Woes? It’s Only a Matter of Time.

During this time of year when we review our habits and goals thoroughly, keep in mind that some things may be beyond your control, your self-control that is. This isn’t an excuse for being unaccountable, but rather, our brain’s reward system and perception of time could have as much to do with accomplishing our goals as our internal will and discipline.

will powerI found this interesting article in which researchers delved into the motivations of goals and self-control. Author, Maria Konnikova, helps reveal a bit more about how our brains work. Self-control is synonymous with delayed gratification and when we think of delayed gratification – not eating a treat now to be slimmer later, saving money now to pay for the honeymoon next year – we attribute our willpower in making it so.

Yet it’s actually not that simple. If the timing of the payoff is longer than expected in coming or comes at irregular intervals, we may give up too soon.  That leads one to ask: so when do you hold ‘em and when do you fold ‘em? It’s still up to you, but this article definitely brings up some interesting points on our perception of time vs. our mental willpower.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Can you forgo a brownie in service of the larger reward of losing weight, give up ready cash in favor of a later investment payoff? The immediate option is hot; you can taste it, smell it, feel it. The long-term choice is far cooler; it’s hard to picture it with quite as much color or power.

In psychological terms, the difference is typically seen as a dual-system trade-off: On one hand, you have the deliberative, reflective, cool system; on the other, the intuitive, reflexive, hot system. The less self-control you have, the further off and cooler the future becomes and the hotter the immediate present grows. Brownie? Yum.

But what if the reality is a little different? What if the ability to delay gratification is actually more like the commuter faced with a crowded train platform than like a dieter faced with a freshly baked treat? A failure of self-control, suggest the University of Pennsylvania neuroscientists Joseph W. Kable and Joseph T. McGuire, may not be a failure so much as a reasoned response to the uncertainty of time: If we’re not quite sure when the train will get there, why invest precious time in continuing to wait?

Click here to read the full article.

Don’t give up on your resolutions to be healthier in 2015 just yet.  Time is on your side.

 

 

Silence your Inner Critic with Self-Compassion

Think of the way we talk to our plants, our pets, our grandparents, our children.  When we are speaking to these special beings, we emit words with the energy of love, compassion and kindness.  Can we say we speak to ourselves that way on a consistent basis?

holiday blog picUnfortunately for many of us, it’s a daily task to clean up the inner thoughts we have about ourselves – especially when crossing by a mirror.  Yet showing ourselves a bit of kindness could go much further to improving our attitude, and even our general well being, according to a new study I read about in Natural Health News.

The study researched women with regard to their body image and physical measurements, and found that self-compassion, rather than self-esteem, could be a vital means to increase positive body image and protect women from unhealthy weight obsessing and dieting practices.

As explained by the article, self-esteem comes from evaluating oneself as above average, whereas self-compassion is described as when dealing with feelings of inadequacy, despair, confusion, and other forms of stress, we respond to ourselves with kindness and understanding.

We may “know” our thoughts and food are connected – especially if you’ve ever succumbed to emotional eating – but as the article says, how we treat ourselves during difficult times seems to have bearing on how we feel about our bodies and food.  Self compassion allows you to give yourself a break and realize that struggles and imperfections are a mandatory part of life.  Everyone has to deal with them – even the ones who seem to have it all together.

The holiday season is hectic enough without you being unkind in your thoughts about yourself (or others).  Remember the best way to keep a healthy body and physique is to RELEASE the obsessing about it and actually accept and be happy with the body you have right now.  Just like when you show kindness and understanding to another person, they respond well, so does your own body when you think kind thoughts about yourself.

Be easy with yourself and give yourself permission to let go.