If you can’t tell by the title, this blog post is about making poor choices. When it comes to taking care of ourselves sometimes we can do a poor job of it. I want to talk about that.

For many people eating a muffin out of a vending machine is not that big of a deal (even if it’s not the healthiest choice).

But for me, it’s the equivalent of smacking myself in the face with a shovel.

I’ve got an autoimmune disorder that will randomly punish me for eating processed foods. Sometimes, (not always) my body will take the chemicals and sugars and overnight turn it into a swollen face, itchiness and serious brain fog. Ouch.

I don’t want to get caught up in “why” I made this poor self-care decision. But, inevitably we will all “eat the muffin.” So, what is one to do in the muffin aftermath?

Inevitably we will all “eat the muffin.”

It turns out that how you relate to yourself makes a difference in how things will play out in the day after a poor decision. How you deal with a poor choice, makes a really big deal in how your following choices will progress.

Inner compassion is the secret sauce.

People who are able to show compassion towards themselves after a poor decision have better resilience in this time of struggle. The resilience can take a single poor decision and prevent it from becoming a muffin lifestyle.

It seems somewhat counter intuitive, right? You might think that you need to crack the whip on yourself and be harsh and critical to smack yourself back into line. But it’s not true. Research shows that people who practice inner compassion have better resilience, and are therefore in a better position to make the next choice.

SO what does inner compassion look like in practice? Let’s go back to the muffin aftermath. It’s the day after and I wake up swollen and achy.

I resist the urge to beat myself up over my decision. Instead of saying “I’m such an idiot, why do I do this to myself?”

I opt for a bit of mindfulness. “Oh wow, that was a poor choice, I’m really suffering.” Here I’m acknowledging the decision and being aware of present moment (with as little judgment as I can muster, and maybe a little humor).

I apply some inner compassion. “Oh self, I’m so sorry you are suffering. It really sucks to have to deal with this disease. You usually do a pretty good job of managing your food and stress levels.”

Inner compassion can be good self-care. “I need to take extra good care of myself today to help my body heal. I’m going to eat something fresh and green and then take a warm bath tonight after work.”

It’s that simple. A little kindness and compassion towards yourself can help you to make your next series of decision “after the muffin” be decisions that support you, instead on falling into a pattern of self-loathing and a cascade of additional poor choices.

What to do after you make a poor choice:

  1. Don’t beat yourself up – everyone makes poor choices from time to time, we are human, it happens. It’s ok to give yourself a break.
  1. Recognize you’re suffering. It may not always obvious that our poor decisions lead us to suffering, but they do, or we wouldn’t be calling it a “poor” decision. Right?
  1. Show yourself a little kindness for your suffering. – What? You don’t know how to do this? No problem. Think about how you would treat a family member or a dear friend who is suffering in the same way.

You got this.

 

Neff, K. D. & McGeehee, P. (2010). Self-compassion and psychological resilience among adolescents and young adults. Self and Identity, 9, 225-240.

Neff, K. D., & Dahm, K. A. (2014). Self-Compassion: What it is, what it does, and how it relates to mindfulness (pp. 121-140). In M. Robinson, B. Meier & B. Ostafin (Eds.) Mindfulness and Self-Regulation. New York: Springer.