Good morning, everybody! Today, on The Work Of Becoming podcast, I want to talk about a conversation that I had recently with a couple of the girls who were on the Back of the Pack retreat.
So, if you don’t know, I recently flew to Sedona to do a partnership with a company called Back of the Pack. They offer retreats for women who are at the back of the pack. Maybe you like being outdoorsy, you like being outside, you like nature, but you’re not necessarily identifying as this super, incredible, mountain-goat-style human who’s at the front of the pack and running up mountains. So, I love them. I love everything about what they do. I’ve gone to one of their retreats in the past. And so, we partnered, and we did a mindset-based Back of the Pack retreat. So, we did some mindset coaching. We sat around the fire, and I coached everybody live. It was a really incredible experience.
During that coaching, one of the girls asked me the question, “Karin, how do you do life? How do you know everything you know and not feel guilty for not being able to apply it?” I loved that question. I thought it was so interesting because what this person was noticing is that when we sometimes know what to do and we aren’t doing it, that gap can create a lot of guilt because we feel like the knowledge is a burden. We feel like when we know something, we have the responsibility to be able to enact it all the time.
I told her (and I’ll tell you all this today) that I’m not gonna lie, I do absolutely go into a guilt spiral about that. A couple days ago, actually, I was about to start my period, and I looked at my boyfriend, and I was like, “I am just so frustrated with myself right now because I don’t feel like I’m changing. I don’t feel like I’m applying what I know. I feel like nothing is working.” And so, I don’t want you to think that I never, ever, ever am in that place of guilt or maybe even a little bit of self-hate, but the title of this episode is “Self-Acceptance is a Place You Return To.”
And so, what I told this person when she asked me was that life is 50/50, and I don’t expect myself to be in the magical land of self-love all the time. There are going to be days where I don’t like myself. There are going to be days where I am struggling with self-compassion. There are going to be days where the mean voice in my brain comes out, and that’s okay. There are gonna be good days, and there are gonna be bad days, but one of the things that I’ve learned through the science and just through experience is that I can always return to self-compassion and self-acceptance even if it’s not a place where I live.
So, I think we sometimes have this expectation. You can use body image as an example. We have this expectation that we’re gonna land at this place where we love our bodies all the time, and when we look in the mirror, we’re like, “Oh, magic and rainbows! Unicorns grow out of my toenails! I am the best body in the world,” and, for me, it is unhelpful to hold myself to a standard of loving myself all the time because I know that I have a human brain that is designed to find flaws, that is designed to have a negativity bias, and that negativity bias is what keeps me alive. And so, I am grateful for that.
And so, to pull it back, what we can focus on is that when we are feeling critical about our bodies, that’s allowed, but we can always return to a place of body neutrality. We can return to a place of body acceptance. You can do the same thing with brain acceptance and with brain love, and acknowledge that, yeah, sometimes your brain is gonna be self-critical. Sometimes my brain is self-critical. Sometimes I’m really frustrated, but at any given moment, I have the opportunity to choose again, and I have the opportunity to redirect back to the self-compassionate place, back to the place of self-acceptance. Sometimes I experience resistance to doing that. Sometimes my brain wants to be in the angry mode. Sometimes my brain feels like it’s stuck in a funk and it’s impossible to get out. I am just here to be open and honest about the fact that I have those days. Those days are a part of life.
For me, at least (and for a lot of people I’ve coached), the second we release our own expectation that I’m going to be happy all the time, I’m going to be satisfied all the time, if I simply get the right routines and habits in place, then my life is going to be sunshine and rainbows. I’m never going to experience sadness or frustration. Sadness and frustration are part of life, and as soon as we accept that life if 50/50, it doesn’t matter what happens and there’s gonna be good and bad, that is when we can start being mindful in those moments, being with ourselves, being with our bodies, and we’re gonna have a much richer experience of life.
One of the things I always say to myself, and I’ll leave you with this, is that without frustration, there would be no growth. You would not get to experience the joy of having finally accomplished something if we didn’t experience the hardship and the frustration of what it takes to get there. And so, if I want that joy, if I want that exhilaration, I have to be okay with what comes before it. And so, that’s what I would return to when I’m having a hard time.
So, that’s that. I will talk to you in the next episode!