Psychology of MovementAre you supporting yourself?
A prerequisite to successful and healthy behaviour change is that you learn to support yourself. If you have times where you struggle with motivation for movement it’s all too easy to judge yourself harshly. That inner critic might come out. You might get frustrated with yourself for lacking discipline, being lazy or not being good enough.
As we dived into last week, when your inner dialogue becomes self-critical it can have the opposite effect to the one you want. You might be trying to give yourself a kick up the backside, but it can make you feel worse about yourself and decrease motivation and confidence even further. Here’s why…
Self-criticism impacts self-efficacy
Remember when we first spoke about the concept of self-efficacy? Self-efficacy means your confidence in your ability to take the necessary steps towards achieving something. Well, research has shown that self-criticism is negatively correlated with self-efficacy and self criticism can even predict decreases in self-efficacy following failure. Coping with that inner critic is therefore important.
Develop a supportive self-relationship
So next time you spot that critical inner voice, try following these steps. They will help you to develop a more supportive self-relationship that can be beneficial as you navigate any challenging experiences:
- Notice the struggle – no matter how much you feel you are to “blame”, you can still acknowledge that this situation is difficult. It’s hard to overcome a challenge without being able to look at it head-on and acknowledge its impact on you. We often talk about “meeting yourself where you’re at”, which means noticing how you’re feeling and then considering how to motivate yourself. If you notice that a situation is hard on you, it’s a lot easier to come up with alternative ways of motivating yourself that better fit your mood and state of mind (see #3 below!).
- Understand your experience from a neutral perspective – why did it happen? Empathise with challenges that have gotten in your way. All behaviour has what psychologists call a function, which basically means it makes sense given what it helps you to achieve or avoid. So ask yourself how does it make sense that I’ve ended up here? What can I learn from this that I can use to improve the way I navigate such challenges in future?
- Ask: What do you need to do and say to yourself to restore your drive and move yourself closer to your goals and values?
- Remember: it is a normal human tendency to want to berate yourself at various times. Notice and understand the urge to do that. But remember – you don’t have to be feeling positive to act in a valued manner. Difficult thoughts and feelings are only barriers when you attach yourself to them. So how can you act in a way that you value despite whatever you are feeling?