If you know you need to work on your health, but you just don't feel ready, then this post is for you.
- This blog post will not be a "pep talk" that will try to get you to change.
- This blog post will not try to make you change your diet or start exercising when you don't feel ready to do so.
What this post will do is help you feel a deeper compassion for the part of you that is not ready to take action toward better health…
…So that when you are ready you'll be able to take action wholeheartedly, without being slowed down by inner resistance or discouragement.
SOMETIMES A PERSON IS JUST NOT READY
Taking action toward good health is important. But the truth is, sometimes a person just isn't ready.
If you aren't ready, you'll probably relate to these statements:
- "I know I should be exercising, but it just seems too hard."
- "I'm too busy to spend time cooking or working out."
- "I can't imagine giving up the foods I love to eat, even though I know they are bad for me."
These are all signs of not being ready.
And if you are not ready, you've come to the right place.
NOT BEING READY IS HARD
Here's a rarely-acknowledged truth:
It's hard being overweight or out of shape, knowing that you "should" do something about it, but honestly not feeling ready to take action.
After all, there's not much compassion in our society if you're not taking massive health-related action, right now.
If you aren't ready to take action, you are greeted with a near-universal chorus of:
- "You should be ashamed!"
- "You gotta push through! Try harder and do it anyway!"
- "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels! [or some other pep-talk slogan]"
- "A dumb diabetic is a dead diabetic!"
- "Do you WANT to get sick/die early?"
- …and so on.
None of this helps. All these responses just make you feel worse (and will, in fact, probably push you toward eating food that's not good for you, just so you can feel some comfort and relief).
WHY YOU ARE NOT READY
It turns out that if you don't feel ready to take action to improve your health, there are good reasons why you feel that way.
Most likely, you don’t feel ready because you've tried in the past to improve your health, and you've failed.
That harsh experience of trying and failing has led you to believe that it's pointless to try to improve your health. The evidence seems to be that trying to improve your body is a painful experience that doesn't lead to success. So why even bother?
In the face of your experience, some part of you has given up on losing weight or otherwise improving your health.
And because part of you is discouraged about your health, has given up, and feels like taking action is pointless, you find yourself feeling "not ready."
IT'S HARD TO CHANGE IF YOU FEEL ASHAMED AND IGNORED
If you know you "need to shape up" and haven't, you probably are alternating between two ways of relating to yourself:
- You're shaming yourself for having given up. Along with the rest of the world, you probably are shaming yourself for your lack of motivation. "I shouldn't be this way," you might tell yourself. "I'm lazy," you might say. Or you might be asking, "What is wrong with me?"
- You're ignoring the whole problem of health. If you're not actively shaming yourself for having given up, you're probably ignoring the whole situation. Because ignoring the whole problem of health is less painful than beating yourself up, there's a good chance that you spend most of your time just ignoring your health situation. After all, if the alternative is feeling ashamed, you might as well just go numb to the whole thing.
But ignoring the whole situation has a major problem of its own:
If you ignore the whole problem of health, you'll never be in a position to take powerful, wholehearted action to improve your health.
It turns out there is a solution:
The solution is to have compassion for yourself… even when you're not ready to make a change.
That's the solution because being compassionate with yourself is the best way to gently bring yourself to the point of being ready.
But there's one thing you must know if you want your self-compassion to actually help you:
Self-compassion is tricky, because we often confuse it with ignoring the problem.
For instance, a person might think that the way to be compassionate to themselves would be to say,
"I want to be compassionate to myself. Therefore I'll tell myself that it's fine if I ignore my health for the rest of my life."
While that is certainly less painful than shaming yourself, that is not the kind of compassion we are looking for. Saying "It's fine if I ignore my health for the rest of my life" is simply taking the opposite approach of shaming yourself. It's less painful, but it doesn't bring you any closer to being able to wholeheartedly improve your health.
And that's important because, if you're "dirt honest," simply being unhealthy and ignoring it is probably not the deepest longing of your heart.
In your heart, you probably long to be healthy and feel good in your body.
That means you can't simply be okay with ignoring your health, and with calling that compassion.
You mustn't confuse allowing yourself to ignore your painful condition forever with being truly compassionate for yourself.
This is the compassion that you need: the love that doesn't shame you for having given up, but that also doesn't ignore the fact that you've given up.
THE COMPASSION YOU NEED
Fortunately, unconditional love and compassion have a way of recharging people to take action.
If you've ever sat with a discouraged friend and listened to him or her complain, and simply provided love and compassion, you know that, after their pain has been acknowledged, and they've been loved even though they are discouraged, they are usually ready to try once more.
Compassionate love—without pep-talks, without advice—really does recharge people's hearts and allow them to try once again.
That means we can't just tell ourselves,
"I know health is a painful issue for me because I've failed in the past, so it's okay to ignore it."
We have to go deeper with our compassion, telling ourselves,
"I know health is a painful issue for me because I've failed in the past..and I'm here to love the part of me that has given up on taking action, until I feel like I can try once again."
It may seem like a subtle difference, but it's actually huge.
Rather than enabling yourself to ignore your situation in the name of compassion, you can actually pay more attention, and bring love to the parts of yourself that have given up on trying.
The more love and compassion you can bring to the part of yourself that has given up on taking action to improve your health, the sooner you'll get to the point of being able to wholeheartedly take new action—not as a chore, but with power and inspiration.
That healing may not happen in a minute. It may not happen in a day.
But you do need to start that healing if you want to be able to pursue better health from a sense of inner inspiration.
I want to support you through the process of healing your discouragement so you can become ready. I hope that you'll keep coming back to this blog and read it for support, even if you aren't ready to start taking action yet.
And if you want to go deeper, you can download my new 4-page PDF report, "7 Steps to bringing compassion to yourself If you’re not ready to take healthy action. In it I'll walk you through each step bringing compassion to yourself, so you can recharge and feel good about your walk to better health—whether or not you are ready to act right now.