I’m navigating my surroundings today by walking. There are lots of pathways through the forest and I’ve been walking along them. Sometimes I come to a side junction and although it’s tempting to take it I’ve been sticking to the main paths. It seems I need to get the basic pattern of the forest into my system before I branch out. The other thing I’ve been doing is looking down. The path surface is quite rutted and uneven so I’ve been taking care not to miss my footing. I’ve been taking baby steps.
That got me thinking….. about creating new behaviours – like taking up healthy eating or even healthy thinking or getting more exercise. When I start something new, I always expect to get it right first time or else I’m really annoyed with myself. I always expect to be as proficient at doing the new thing as I am about thinking about doing it. It might be more useful to take baby steps.
So, for example, a possible new behaviour like get more exercise. Before I start I would have to get specific. So, what is the desired new behaviour? I want to walk. How much do you want to walk? Well, I’ve heard that twenty-minute walks are a good start so I want to walk twenty minutes, twice a day. Okay then I begin. The first day always goes well, I’m highly motivated. By day three I’m increasing the time to forty minutes and possibly the frequency to twice as often…. By day twelve I have a list of excuses why I’m not good at exercise and I haven’t been out in days. This is the time for the baby steps.
Baby steps are kind and gentle. When the baby toddler stumbles while teetering from chair to chair and falls flat on his face, do you say, You big slob! You’ve been doing this toddler thing for days and you’re still falling! No, but you say it to yourself. You big slob, you haven’t been out for a walk for days, you’ll never get healthy! Baby steps are different. Baby steps say, Ah sweetie, did you find it hard to keep up the walking? Up you get now, go out the door and start again. Baby steps encourage you to do what you can when you can, no more no less and without the mean attitude!
Be nice to yourself, Mairead.