I’ve been talking a lot about self recently. Self-care in particular. Self-care can be anything that you do for yourself to refill your cup. It can be reading a book, taking a walk, getting a massage, spending time with friends, whatever is good for your soul. One of the things that sometime stops us from participating in self-care, can be negative self-talk. You know what that sounds like … “Somebody might need me while I’m doing that, and it wouldn’t be fair to them” or “I don’t have time because I need to do XYZ for the family” or my personal favorite “I don’t deserve that time because I haven’t achieved ABC yet”. They are all the statements you use to sabotage the right you have to self-care. So, lets talk about why you might self-sabotage.
In a nutshell, it’s because you place yourself lower in the food chain. You place other peoples needs above your own. To some extent, you may even have yourself convinced that you don’t deserve it. And you know what I say to all of that? It’s absolute rubbish. Any body who has ever met me has probably heard me tell them to be kind themselves. And self-care is where the kindness must start. Let go of any guilt you have for taking some time for you. The people that depend on you will survive for the time it takes for you to get what you need to recharge. Trust me, they will! They may well have a bit of a whine (wine??) about you changing your tact to focus on yourself rather than them, but they’ll come around. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have all this self-care wrapped up in a neat package myself, however, I am working on it. Let’s take writing this month’s blog for example. I love to write. I enjoy the creativity and the peace I get from taking my thoughts out of my head and putting them down while having a cup of tea. But you know what? I actually bargained with myself about all the other things I had to do before I deserved to sit down and enjoy that time to write. The irony then hit me and I stopped the bargaining and just sat down to write with my tea. The jobs will still be there when I’m done.
Let’s have a look at negative self-talk, some might call it limiting beliefs, either way you look at it, it is the thoughts you have that generate a negative response (over thinking is another beast altogether and will be discussed another time). The result is, that you don’t get what it was that you wanted. I get a lot of newsletters around marketing and it is so interesting what is promoted in the marketing world that is applicable here. Talk like you already have what you want. Dress like you are already there. Behave in a way that generates the energy for things to happen for you. Again, I don’t actually have this pattern of behavior neatly wrapped up, because if I did, we would not be training in my garage anymore. For some people, this is a change that is so massive, you just don’t know where to start. I’m going to assume that particular person is reading this and is saying right now “but where do I start Susie?? This is a massive problem for me, it’s just too big, I’ll never be able to do it” so let’s take it the same way we might eat a metaphorical elephant …. One bite at a time.
Get into the habit of saying kind things about yourself to yourself. The brain believes EVERYTHING you tell it. Everything. Let’s bring this into the context of the gym. I’ve seen my clients watch me with Kettlebells. They watch the things I do with kettlebells in a complex. Then they say to me “I’d never be able to do that”. My response is usually “not with that attitude” and I truly mean that. If you’re telling yourself you could “never” do something, then you aren’t even giving yourself permission to learn how. Does a baby look at everyone walking and think “I’ll never be able to do that”? Not that I’ve had that conversation with a baby recently, or ever, but I’m pretty sure that given the number of toddlers that are walking around, I think I can safely say, they don’t think that. Why do you think that is? As a guess (since I’m no expert in babies thoughts), I’m going to say it’s because they haven’t learnt what it’s like to doubt yourself. Babies give everything a crack. Much like dogs. Why do you think you’re running around behind both of them saying “don’t eat that!” “you can’t stop in the middle of the road!” “For once can you just not eat all the poo in sight??” “That’s going to burn if you touch that”. Babies are also amazing at functional movement (next time you are hanging out with a toddler, check out how they squat), but that’s another conversation altogether. My point is that they are explorers. Fear is not known to them. They just do.
For me, taking on a new challenge, is about the learning. What are the steps I need to take to learn the skills to do that thing that has caught my eye? You don’t just start running. First you must learn to crawl, then to walk, then to jog, then to run. It’s the same with any new experience. I’ve been in Boston for the last week. A city I don’t know and alone. I didn’t know anyone there. But I was determined to get out and see as much as I could. I learnt the subway system really quickly and learnt where things were and how to get there … quickly. When I first undertook kettlebell training, I doubted the crap out of myself. I even had a mindset that kettlebells were just for swinging. When I did my kettlebell training, I was around 18 months post shoulder surgery and was pretty nervous about throwing weights around above my head. But to overcome that, it became about learning the skill well and refining the technique. I didn’t carry the expectation that I “should just get this” because I was a trainer. I was (still am) a trainer that doesn’t know it all and doesn’t do it all. There are still things I’m learning and will continue to learn. I find that what allows me to learn without the stress, is not carrying the expectation that I should know it. I’m human, just like everyone else. No one else expects me to know it, why should I? And, if your stereotype of a trainer is that they do know everything, then I’m here to educate you. We don’t. And if you’ve ever had a trainer that proclaims to know it all, run. Run very fast in the opposite direction.
Doing something for you is all about the mindset you carry around. You won’t ever deadlift your own bodyweight if you start every session with “I’ll never be able to do that”. And just as a hot tip, most trainers take that a personal challenge and may sneakily (or not so sneakily) increase your weights while you aren’t looking. It is the same approach with your self-care. For just one whole day, try saying wonderful positive things to yourself about yourself. Any negatives that enter your mind, challenge yourself to flip it into a positive. You deserve to refill your cup. You deserve some time to rejuvenate. You are worthy of the time you need to tend to your rehab exercises. You are brave enough to accept that you deserve good things. And you are not alone with any of your struggles to achieve these things. Remember that resilience is not how you endure, it is how you bounce back. Practicing that self-care is going to help you bounce back better each time. Don’t rob yourself of the opportunity to be the best you can be. Be your own champion, you deserve it.