Tuesday Tip: Give Yourself a BreakSeptember 14, 2021
In this week’s Tuesday Well-Being Tip, we explore how taking a break can help us to train our minds for self-compassion.
This week, we’re going to explore the damage that black and white thinking can do to our personal well-being journey. As we’ve discussed before, humans have a negativity bias – and it takes a lot of work to train our minds to notice the positive. In times like these, however, where we are constantly overcoming the permanent impermanence of Covid-19 and/or avoiding the endless onslaught of the daily news cycle, trying to overcome these external factors by keeping up a regular self-care regimen can itself feel exhausting.
That’s where the harm of black and white thinking comes in. For example, you may miss your daily meditation after a particularly grueling workday filled with video calls. In this instance, it’s common to move straight to the most extreme outcome: “Ugh, I forgot to meditate and now I’ll never be able to keep it up. I can never stick to anything. There’s really no point in even trying now.”
Missing a day and forgetting to meditate isn’t failure. It’s life. And there is the reality that life is very intense and draining right now. If your healthy habits are not feeling like a source of self-kindness but instead yet another burden on your list – give yourself a break and – take a break.
These are the moments where we thrive when we avoid black and white thinking. You are not “bad” because you sought comfort with food instead of a run, because you missed a meditation, or even because you snapped at a colleague. You are coping the best you can right now and you deserve just as much self-compassion as the compassion that you give to others. You can stop this cycle by returning to self-compassion in these moments.
The next time you “screw up”, or find yourself caught in some old habit that makes you stressed out and have a poor reaction — hit pause and ask yourself a question that’s basically a short cut to self-compassion: “If my best friend was struggling like this, how would I support them? What would I say to them? How would I show I care?” Hopefully asking this question helps your thinking become less black and white, and more multi-hued.
It’s a rough time for all of us – that includes you. Give yourself a break, practice being your own best friend, and savor the nature of life’s ups and downs in the most imperfect, immutable way you can.
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