I’ve recently had great success in punishing myself.
Not in a shaming, destructive way. But, in the way a loving parent encourages a child by setting consequences.
The reason was my seeming inability to adopt healthier choices with any consistency.
Let me preface this by saying that I have no problem showing up for you or other outside commitments that I’ve made. However, when it comes to keeping my word to myself, I regularly fall short.
Not following through with myself – even with seemingly simple self-care ideals — has a wearing effect on my spirit that subconsciously leaves me with a subtle, but lasting degree of anxiety.
My latest downfall was strengthening my shoulder after a small tear in my rotator cuff… ouch!
I was given simple exercises that took a total of 5 minutes. I was to do them daily for a couple of weeks and then evaluate my progress.
The problem is, I would do them for a few days, then forget for a few. Go back to it a couple times and then not return to them for a week.
In the meantime, I was going for therapeutic massage and regular chiropractic adjustments to help the healing process. While not always the most comfortable experience, I enjoyed these treatments.
After several months of this cycle I was spending waaay too much money on the massages and, frankly, not getting any better. SO frustrating!
It occurred to me that I needed to get serious about my exercises. This lasted about 5 days and then I went right back to the previous cycle of massage, adjustments and no real progress. Ugh!
I finally had a motivational epiphany. A.K.A. “my punishment” A.K.A. “what reward will I give up?”
In my case; I decided I would not get a massage until I did my exercises 14 days in a row without missing a day. If I missed a day I had to start the count over until I got to 14 days straight. THEN, and only then I could get massaged.
I did well for 5 days and then missed a day, darn it. But, I started over at Day 1 and with a few close misses accomplished 14 days in a row! And guess what? My shoulder was at least 50% better after the previous 9 months of no real progress.
Moving forward I’ve done one-week increments to keep me on track, but those first 14 days really laid the foundation for healing.
While I hope my personal experience is valuable as a reference. Of course, any medical issues you have should be addressed with your healthcare professional.
But, beyond the physical progress that can be made, I’m wondering if there are other areas where this motivational principle can be applied in your life?
For example; some people don’t eat processed food for 6 days and have a “cheat day” on the 7th day. Perhaps you’ve tried this with little effect. Maybe you can give yourself that 7th day reward only if you accomplish your goals for the previous 6 days?
What about saving money? Perhaps there is something special you want to buy yourself. Maybe you can get it only if you say no to 20 other impulse buys?
Maybe you want to watch less television? Perhaps you can only reward yourself with that special show if you finish a specific work or household task you’ve been procrastinating?
If you have a hard time motivating yourself to make positive changes it could be this reward technique will finally put you on the fast track to keeping the promises you make to yourself.
I am SO curious to hear what your challenges have been, what changes you are going to make and what reward you’ll miss out on, if you fall short.
You can do it! And remember, I am most definitely in your corner…