The active ingredient in successful change is not grit or intention, but gentleness. I write this from a vantage of intellectual near-certainty, while under the surface my still-skeptical heart is fluttering in doubt. But hear me out.
You’re going to fail. Accept this truth of being a person and suddenly every stumble becomes life-affirming.
Failure transforms into an opportunity to evolve, looking less like an imposing brick wall, and more like a velvet rope. Draped across a precipice, failure offers a chance to innovate and step over that dumb ostentatious barrier like a boss. Or keep it above board, hop in line, make slow but steady progress, appease the gatekeepers…
Either way, you’re getting in that door.
Gentleness with ourselves is the antidote to burnout, crushing self doubt and those fuck-its we face when we hold ourselves accountable to achieving everything all at once.
Didn’t lose 40 pounds in two weeks before that wedding? Fuck it™️. Burn it down.
Gentleness is the kind-eyed stranger helping you up when you crash your bike in front of their house. They let you know it’s cool you fell, because, well, bikes crash sometimes! That’s life, kiddo. Now get back out there! Except this is a kindness you do for yourself.
Here how to add a sprinkle of gentleness into your life.
- Avoid the temptation to over-commit. Problems can feel like emergencies, especially when they involve our health, relationships or finances. But listen up, we won’t undo the damage we’ve taken years to inflict overnight just because we write “2 hours at the gym EVERY DAY YOU SLOB!” in our planners. Stop hyperventilating and aim for something achievable, like “15 minutes walks, most days, just this week”, and marvel at how small changes, done over and over, build actual momentum.
- Work with what you’ve got. I strive to be strong and healthy. Also, I hate running. So I work within the bounds of the petulant broad I am and find ways to boost my physicality that don’t make me foaming-at-the-mouth angry. That means exercise is sometimes a weird mirror dance party and diet is a week of green smoothie experimentation, but it’s always 100% me. The simple introspection of knowing, understanding and working with who I am and what I need re-connects me to my power.
- Accept the life-changing possibilities of small steps. Whenever I feel like total garbage, I remember some advice I got from a friend who was freshly out of rehab and I make my bed. Seeing one small part of my life take shape relights the pilot light in my rundown soul.
- Just do what you’re doing. Bring gentle awareness to whatever you do, leaving space for acceptance or critique, guided by your true north. Ask yourself – Does doing this get me closer to my goal? Do I care? Be prepared to hear your truth and respond accordingly, and watch as you veer wildly off course less and less often.
Change happens slowly, and that’s cool.