August’s Book of the Month is The Kindness Method by Shahroo Izadi.
The Kindness Method is a game-changing book about habits and beliefs that focuses on boosting our self-esteem and resilience, rather than demonising ourselves or our behaviours. And we can use it to change any unwanted behaviour, from struggling with prescription drugs to procrastinating to drinking too much Prosecco.
Author, addiction worker and Behavioural Change Specialist, Shahroo Izadi, has combined professional addiction training with personal experience to create The Kindness Method (she has lost - and kept off - eight stone), and whether your unwanted habit is food, booze, drugs, sex, shopping, gambling, gaming or work - or all of the above - this book can help you.
Here are three pieces of easy-to-implement advice from the book…
1.) Zoom out
“To really change our unwanted behaviours, we need to ‘zoom out’ and focus on the entire life we want to live,” saya Shahroo.
Looking at what we’re good at, reminding ourselves of the things we have achieved, deciding who we want to be, examining our thoughts and behaviours, and – of course – being kind to ourselves will always work better and (quicker!) than trying to change an unwanted behaviour through willpower or criticism.
2.) The difference between a ‘lapse’ and a ‘relapse’ is the conversation we have with ourselves
Shahroo defines a lapse as a ‘speedbump that we quickly back on track from,’ and a relapse as ‘when we’ve either returned to how we were behaving before or things have got worse than they were when we started.”
If we lapse we can totally get back on track, so long as we have prepared for it, and can meet it with awareness, renewed motivation and, you guessed it, kindness.
For instance, saying to ourselves: “It’s not really a surprise that you got smashed last night after three months sober. You saw the love of your life with another woman. Heartbreak is tough. But hitting the bottle hasn’t changed the situation, and the way you feel today is not how you want to be feeling. You’ve done SO well to make it this far, don’t let one night on the wine turn into two.
“Plan something nice with someone fun tonight, cook some good food, get some proper sleep and you’ll feel like a new woman tomorrow,” is much better than saying: “You total idiot! I knew you wouldn’t be able to stay sober forever. Couldn’t even get past this hurdle. What’s the point in trying? Who are you trying to kid thinking you were better than every other heartbroken loser? Let’s just go to the pub and try and forget it all.”
3. ) The Paperclip Challenge
This is a brilliantly simple way to start changing the conversations we have with ourselves.
Shahroo explains: “Start each day with thirty or so paperclips in your pockets, then each time you catch yourself saying something cruel to yourself transfer a paperclip from one pocket to the other.
“At the end of the day empty your pockets and you’ll be shocked when you realise how frequently it has been happening.”
Visual tricks like this are very effective at highlighting how ingrained our habit of negative self-talk is. And once we start catching these conversations we have with ourselves, we can start changing them.