Honouring Ourselves in The Journey Towards Sustainable Change
by Kelsey Ellis, RHN
Change is an inevitable part of the human growth process. All of us have arrived at some point in our lives where we have a deep knowing that we have not been taking care of ourselves. That something needs to change in our lives in order to bring us closer to healthier way of living, whether it be a physical, mental or emotional catalyst. How each of us have arrived at this knowing, can very different from one another. For some, a health crisis side-blinded us into immediate action and for others, watching somebody close to us suffer from pain or illness, sparked us to take every step possible to prevent it from happening in our own lives. For some, parenting has cultivated a sense of responsibility to be a role model of health for their children, and for others, a quiet feeling of not living up to our fullest human potential is what propelled us in to an awakening of better self-care. What matters is not how we have arrived here, but more importantly what we can actively do to ensure we foster and support our goals in a way that we can stick to them even through the difficult times and obstacles that life will inevitably throw our way.
Imagine yourself as a one-year old baby learning to walk for the first time. You start off squirming and writhing on your belly on the ground, slowly making your way across one side of the room to the other. Delighted by your new-found ability for exploration, you find yourself gripping on to the coffee table, pulling yourself up on two shaky legs and can hear the excitement of cheering from your parents urging for you to keep going. A couple of days later, beckoned by the soft calls of your mother, you decide to let go of the table and make your way towards her on your own two feet. When you let go, the world feels unsteady at first and you fall down. You get back up and try again, taking one step and down you go. Stand up, fall down, again and again and again. Not once do you throw up your hands and say, “I’m just going to crawl for the rest of my life.” You practice over and over until finally you’ve taken enough steps to reach your mothers open embrace.
Just like learning to walk for the first time, we aren’t going to be “good” at implementing change right off the bat. It takes time, conscious awareness, daily practice, failures and moments of learning to finally settle into a routine that feels comfortable. It all begins with recognizing that you can no longer follow the same path that you are currently on, because it is no longer serving you. Once you begin to become aware of this, you might intuitively start to research ways to implement change such as trying new exercises or buying healthier groceries. However, will power and external motivations will naturally fade over time. So how do you remain empowered to carry on when the novelty wears off and the going gets tough?
1. Be kind to yourself
If a friend was struggling to make healthful changes, we would naturally be encouraging and supportive, but for some reason we have a hard time offering the same level of encouragement for ourselves. As they say “Rome was not built in one day,” the same is true for our own goals. Be open to listening to your self-talk. Is it positive? Is it something you would say to a friend who is going through the same struggle? What we say, we become. So, if we want to become more confident or empowered, we must choose our words wisely.
2. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
It is normal to feel fearful and frustrated in process of undoing who we think we are and creating who we are going to become going forward. Many people enjoy the safety of routine and feel uncomfortable when they are trying new things. However, everything you want to achieve is on the other side of fear and that is why it may have taken so long to choose a new way of living. With regular practice and self-compassion, fear will dissipate and a new sense of well-being will arise. Trust the process and know that each moment whether easy or difficult, was a necessary step in becoming more of what you are seeking.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for support when you need it
In a society that admires perfectionism, so many of us fear that if we let our crown slip, the world will see who we really are. Acknowledging when you need help is one of the most self-aware and profound things that you can do for yourself. It is not a sign of weakness but rather makes you relatable to others and authentic. Although your journey is completely personal, it doesn’t mean you have to endure it alone. You will be surprised by how much support you have from those around you. All you have to do is take the first step and ask.
5. Self-reflect daily: “Am I better today than I was yesterday?” (hint– the answer doesn’t always have to be yes!)
You are many things. A friend, a parent, a co-worker, and a spouse but most importantly, you are a human! And with that great privilege, you have the ability to assess your setbacks and push the restart button whenever you so choose. The word “better” can be defined in many ways. It can be as slight or as grand as you decide it to be. Strive for progress, not perfection. It is natural to have days where you don’t feel like you’ve made a difference and that is okay. Acknowledging that in itself alone, typically results in making a greater effort to be marginally better the next day.
6. Lastly, remember why you started this journey
You didn’t reach this desire for change by coincidence. The pathway towards a healthier life unfolded in moments that happened unconsciously and in quiet whispers that eventually turned into roars. They became so loud that you began to notice them on a conscious level and a revelation occurred. Often clients tell me this is the point in which they realized they were “sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.” Your reason why you started this journey, is individual to you. It is your why that inspires you to continue to endure, even when you don’t feel like it and it is your why that will save you when you feel that you cannot go on. Discover your why and store it for safe keeping.
Whether you are just at the beginning stage of discovering your health journey, or already deeply invested in it, you will feel the oscillation between operating from a place of passion or obligation. Just like the waves of the ocean, these feelings can change depending on the day. By implementing the steps above and remembering why you started, you can anchor yourself in feeling more grounded when the going gets tough. Learning to honour yourself in the process, is where the real journey begins.
Kelsey Ellis is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, they offer appointments at Local Health Integrative Clinic on Mondays & Wednesdays Click here to book an appointment with Kelsey.