I recently did a presentation on the role of courage and trust in social advocacy and the ways in which a mindfulness practice – a practice of nonjudgmental and intentional present moment awareness – can support advocates in internally cultivating those qualities and caring for themselves. Cultivating courage and self-trust is so important for all of us regardless the context, including in achieving a goal to mindfully create a healthy lifestyle.
Much of an advocate’s work is courageously speaking truth to others in positions of power. A mindfulness practice is an internal advocacy of sorts; a different kind of speaking truth – truth to yourself. It brings with it a different quality than one normall associates with advocacy. Reaching this truth requires employing courage with a soft, gentle curiosity about the ways you are getting in your own way. It could mean shifts in your mindset or gradual shifts in your daily ingrained routines around, for instance, eating, movement, schedule, relationships, boundaries. This is the the stuff life is made of, the building blocks of our lives, our health, our well-being, and not to be minimized. If you are receiving this email, you have likely already decided that there are ways you are not honoring yourself and want to take responsibility to move in the direction of doing so. I’m so happy that you are part of this community.
I know. You’re saying, “Stephanie, I just want to take better care of myself. I need to lose weight and exercise more and can’t seem to get either to stick,” or “I am too stressed and want a regular meditation practice,” or “My doctor said my blood pressure is too high. I have to do something. What does self-trust have to do with it?” Creating any sustainable change in your life also requires trusting not only that change is possible but that you can make it happen. This means trusting that you really can shift to eating habits that better serve you so you can lose weight or lower your blood pressure, you can slow down your life and not lose out on what matters to you, you can have confidence in your decisions, you can manage your stress better, you can set boundaries. Self-trust also means though knowing what your limits are and honoring them. It means not taking on more than you can chew. In this context, that translates into not trying to make too many changes too fast but taking things step by step. You are trusting that you can achieve your goal with a patient attitude.
One of the biggest reasons why we don’t successfully create new habits that last is that we try to do too much instead of making changes that fit within the context of our lives gradually. We forget to be kind and gentle with ourselves along the way. I have had people tell me that they cannot reach their goals without being really hard on themselves. That approach generally only keeps one stuck and is a sign of a lack of trust in oneself. Honoring yourself through self-trust is something worth cultivating, an important part of the coaching process when self-trust is lacking.
These are all characteristics that can be cultivated and strengthened. It is a practice of growth that takes time; we all start at different points and all have work to do around it. It is well worth the effort. And as you develop the qualities of courage, self-trust, and patience in your pursuit of your goals you will find that it reverberates throughout the rest of your life over time.
Interested in learning how mindfulness coaching can help you create a healthy lifestyle that sticks?