From a young age, we are schooled in how to motivate ourselves to achieve something. If you followed the rules, sacrificed your free time to study, and got good grades, you were a good student. If you pushed your body, practiced for hours, and won competitions, you were a good athlete.

We apply this same method of ‘being good’ to health goals. If you work hard and follow the rules, you will be healthy. It sounds simple, but in reality, equating well-being with ‘being good’ slowly eats away at motivation. The act of fueling and moving our bodies has become a moral choice.

The new normal is a chance to leave all that crazy-making judgmental thinking behind and start fresh. The way to emerge motivated to stay healthy in this new normal  is … brace yourself … Be Kind Inside!

The idea that kindness is soft and will not lead to motivation is from the ‘old school’ way of making ‘good’ choices. Judgment and criticism may work great for short-term motivation, but there is not one study that says work for long-term motivation. On the contrary, every single study on kindness and self-compassion shows that they work for making lasting changes.

Being Kind Inside is not the same as being nice inside. Being nice is going along with something, even when you know it’s not in the best interest of all involved, yourself included.   Being kind is standing firm in what you know is most important for the well-being of those involved, yourself included.  Saying no is as kind as saying yes when well-being is at stake.

Even more, being Kind Inside shifts you into being well, the state where your health happens.   Self-criticism, on the other hand, puts you into a stress state, where healing and repair are put on hold.

If your pre-pandemic health habits were built on lots of accountability to keep you being good, doing what you know you should,  chances are they withered away quickly during the pandemic.

If your health habits were choices you made out of kindness to yourself each day, chances are they were pandemic- proof and helped you weather the storms of the past year.

The most challenging time to be Kind Inside is when you are feeling badly in your body. Negative emotions, extra body weight, pain, fatigue, tension—all can trigger the inner critic that resorts to the old mindset that you need to be hard on yourself to fix the problem. If you are uncomfortable in your body right now, please resist that old pattern, and emerge with greater well-being and motivation by being Kind Inside.

Bottom Line: Being Kind Inside takes you off the rollercoaster of trying to be good and trying not to be bad and lands you in a place of greater confidence that you can take care of yourself no matter what life brings in the new normal.

This week: Notice where you are using the old strategies of ‘trying to be good’, or ‘toughing it out to get to a goal so you can feel better’ approach for exercise. If those strategies did not keep you motivated through the pandemic, take this opportunity to emerge into the new normal with pandemic-proof motivation by learning how to be Kind Inside.