If you’re going to get better at this fitness thing (or anything), you need to accept one fact: You do not suck as much as you think you do.
Most of us are far harder on ourselves than anyone else ever could be. We look at other people and compare ourselves, often to our own detriment.
There’s only so long you can punch yourself in the mental face before you just say “Screw this” and walk away, off to try something else, then something else, then something else …
We do this to ourselves, though—this “you suck” mentality. And our culture helps. Plus, there’s money to be made by telling us we suck, because there’s always someone to teach us how to improve. That’s okay (we live in a capitalistic society), but nobody’s going to regulate this talk, so you need to learn to regulate yourself. Because our community (with good intentions) will say this:
“Look at this you’re bad at. And this. And this.”
“Work your goats. Work your goats. Work your goats.”
But it gets old, and it has a cost.
See, I know because I used to be this way.
All my life, I was the first one in the line to punch myself in the mental face because I wasn’t the best at this or that. I’d compare myself to her in the class, or him, or that person online. My goats were many. They multiplied daily. And they ran all over my backyard, obscuring any flowers, hiding any accomplishments. CrossFit only helped me see more goats. Oh, those goats. I chased those ugly, smelly things constantly.
Then, one day, I realized I was spending all my time herding goats, and I was not enjoying the things I did like and I was good at. So I opened the gates. I let all the goats run free. And then I could see the flowers again. Life was a heck of a lot more beautiful … and FUN.
The goats hang around the outer edges of the lawn, but I don’t let them eat the flowers and sometimes I just run right at them and scare the crap out of them. Goats don’t bother me so much anymore.
Do I still suck at some things? YES. But I don’t give a damn anymore.
I work on some things to improve—like double-unders or pull-ups or snatches. And some things I just let run into the woods. Handstand walking? I don’t care. I don’t want to do it. My chiropractor begs me not to do it. And it doesn’t matter to my physical or mental well-being if I do it. I’m not a CrossFit Games athlete. I’m not a local competitor. I’m just a writer who wants to stay healthy and move heavy weight, and I’m never going to walk on my hands. I’m good with that.
See, what I realized was that in beating myself up all the time about my shortcomings, I was creating a miserable life for myself. I was getting better at some tasks, but at a huge mental cost. And, for my objectives, it wasn’t worth it.
Does this make me weak? Some people might say so. (“She’s old … and crazy!”) But guess what? I don’t care. They don’t live in my skin. I do. And I’m happy.
Am I saying you shouldn’t work your goats? No. Do I think you should give up? No. What I’m saying is that if you are beating yourself up, then you should think about how productive this is and how in line with your goals, and then assess how you are taking care of yourself mentally as well as physically.
You can do this. You are doing this.
Put on your goofy socks, and kick open the door of your mind. Step up to the bar like you own that thing, not like you’re asking permission of it, or permission of this life. And go do something you love just because you love it.
Stop obsessing about what you suck at. Stop being some goat’s bitch. Be your own bitch. Trust me, it’s a hell of a lot more fun.