Sunday, April 09, 2006

Reward Yourself

I know—two posts so close together is unusual for me but I’m about to do some traveling and deal with some difficult family members so I’m not sure when I’ll next get a chance to post.

Reward yourself! Does that take you aback? It would have had that effect on me just a few years ago. But I have come to see just how powerful a tool rewards can be.

How do you make changes? Do you try to bully or shame yourself into doing so? How well does that work? Odds are, not very well. At least it didn’t for me. But what I have found does work is to build fun or some kind of reward into any difficult or challenging situation I deal with.

For example, I hate, absolutely HATE going to the dentist! So...I always do two things.

1) I visualize success. In the case of going to the dentist, I visualize myself being calm and happy and meditating through it all.

2) I treat myself afterwards. It doesn’t have to be expensive or even cost anything at all—I just need to do something that makes me smile. It might be going to a favorite place. It might be buying a new lipstick or renting a video that makes me laugh. But I IMMEDIATELY do something that brings me pleasure.

If we do this, we begin to see ourselves succeeding (the visualization) which makes it easier to take the steps we need to take. And when we reward ourselves afterwards, we are conditioning ourselves to associate fun and laughter with making changes and facing challenges. When we do this, we are more likely to find ourselves in a frame of mind that increases our odds of success. We are also giving ourselves the clear message that we deserve to be happy--and isn’t that a strange and wonderful message for us to get!

So....make a list of things that make you smile, that make you feel rewarded, that make you feel happy. List as many as you can—big and small. And get in the habit of rewarding yourself every time you do something that you find difficult. You may be surprised at how much difference it can make.

Sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),


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