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Dealing with Your Inner Brat

When to Choose Self-Discipline vs Self-Care

You know how it is - you are plowing through towards your goals, feeling on top of the world because you are diligently doing what needs to be done...what you made a deal with yourself to do in order to get to your next level. When you're on this path, life feels almost too easy because every disciplined action you take towards your goals fuels your motivation further and makes it that much easier to keep making positive choices.

So, what do you do when your Inner Brat pushes her way into the control room & says:

"No...I don't wanna (eat right/exercise/wake up early to pack my lunch/eat that packed lunch instead of the Shake Shack burger & fries that smell so damn delicious/go to bed early instead of watching 3 more episodes of your current Netflix obsession/turn down that second glass of wine)!"

First of all, this can feel like a slap in the face. What was going along so well can all of a sudden feel like an incredible struggle. Instead of the good-for-you choices happening almost naturally with very little effort, now you feel as if you have to squeeze them out through a meat grinder in order to stay on track with your goals. Eventually the effort becomes too much and you slip up, give in to your Inner Brat, and are swayed off course. But before you rain down judgement & ridicule on yourself for being weak, realize what's happening here.

This is usually a sign that you've been pushing too hard for too long without refilling your self-care centers (the stuff that makes you feel good about yourself, loved, worthy...and therefore motivated to do good things for yourself). So, what do you do in this situation? Basically, you have two choices:

1. Take a Break (Self-Care)

Sometimes you need to let yourself binge-watch the entire Game of Thrones series in order to step away from the work that you're burned out from. You need the break from the grind to restore your mental & physical power. This gives you a fresh perspective, clearer vision, and greater vitality when you do come back to your work. The break allows you to be way more productive and effective by refilling your self-care centers and allowing your body to heal from the stress it's normally bombarded with. In a fat loss situation, a cheat meal can be essential for balancing out your hormones which can actually make it easier to lose body fat when you go back to your eating plan. Taking a strategic break from your goal-chasing efforts is not's strategy.

2. Double-Down (Self-Discipline)

And sometimes you need to tell your Inner Brat to stop being a brat and double-down on your efforts towards your goals. Sometimes if you just sit with the discomfort for 15 minutes, you'll realize you don't really want the want to feel confident in that new leo you bought. Taking that time to sit with your feelings will give way to a renewed sense of purpose & motivation. You just needed to honor your commitment to yourself through one more positive action to appreciate your worth & remember what you really want for yourself.

I talk about this with my Elite Coaching clients often. When you have goals that you are working towards, how do you know when to keep pushing and when the pushing is actually making it harder to attain your goals? As dancers, most of us veer towards pushing for the sake of pushing in our needless attempt to inflict punishment on ourselves. But that kind of chronic, brutal stress often takes us further from our goals.

So when do choose self-discipline and when do you choose self-care?

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You won't always know what the "right" choice is. And guess what - there isn't one. What's important here is that you acknowledge that you have a choice...and then make one.

Don't be wishy-washy and go halfway. Halfway is bullshit. That's when you wind up with guilt. That's when you wind up feeling lazy and still burned out like you never took a break even after spending all weekend binge-watching 9 seasons of that Netflix series. That's when you wind up eating a pan of brownies and feeling terrible about yourself afterwards. This guilt happens because you were swept up in your emotions and never made a real choice. You let your Inner Brat sway you off course. But if you CHOOSE to eat the pan of brownies....that will give you a totally different feeling afterwards. And here's a hint - guilt is not involved. Because YOU are in control. YOU are guiding your life. YOU are choosing your path. Make a choice...then, accept the consequences of that choice. Guilt not required.

Here's the cool thing about all this. If you get good enough at listening to your intuition (instead of those mental demons barking orders of what you "should" do), whether you choose self-discipline or self-care, the outcome will still lead you closer to your goals.


What's important is recognizing that you are commanding the power over your life's course. You're not being blown about like a leaf in the wind, manipulated by these imaginary forces that are swaying your actions. The responsibility is all on you. And if the responsibility is all on you...then the victory is all on you too. There's almost nothing as vital to your success and fulfillment in life than this sense of power.

So the next time your Inner Brat starts pouting, you now have the tools to evaluate the situation and most importantly...make a choice.

Photo credit: Rachel Neville Photography