Recently, one seemingly normal Wednesday gave me the chance to demonstrate one of the superpowers I’ve been honing over the last ten years…
It started when I was working with a client—let’s call her Cindy—on a simple bodyweight squat. Cindy hadn’t reached her goal yet but was getting better. So to me, everything was going just peachy.
Meanwhile, a few feet away, another member was working on a goblet squat. She held the 45-pound dumbbell tightly to her chest and executed ten flawless reps. As she racked the weight, that’s when I heard Cindy remark “I should be able to do that.”
There it was: the word. “Should.” To me, this word was like a cry for help, just as if Commissioner Gordon flipped the switch on the “Brad-Signal” above the city skyline. (I’ll have to work on one getting one of those…that would be sweet!)
Stop “Shoulding” All Over Yourself
You see, I hear this word from time to time. Many of our female clients can accomplish impressive physical feats. It’s not unusual for them to push their body weight on a sled, bench press more than 100 pounds, or display exceptional cardiovascular conditioning during a class. Yessir, Bodysmith women are a pretty tough bunch and inspirational to many people. 🙂 And sometimes, when a member sees these impressive feats they may get the wrong idea of what that means to them.
See, I’m all for members like Cindy finding inspiration in the world around them, and finding motivation in their quest to be better than they are. After all, it’s my mission to help people be the best versions of themselves possible, but…
First, what is with that word, “should?” When Cindy used that word she immediately assumed responsibility for not being able to accomplish something—and that responsibility carries a massive load of baggage. That baggage can skew our perspective and obligate us to be something that we aren’t or even that we can’t be. Does that sound helpful? No. No, it does not sound helpful, does it?
Second, inspiration is one thing, but comparison can be destructive, especially when it is between things as complicated as people. We are all unique in the most glaring and subtle of ways. We all have different situations, histories, experiences, and circumstances, and trying to compare one human to another is fraught with challenges.
Apples to Oranges
So let’s look at Cindy and our other member and see what we can learn.
The member that performed the perfect squats was thirty-three years old with no unusual health conditions that limit her abilities. Cindy, on the other hand, is a seventy-year-old who has had both knees replaced within the last couple of years. Do you see why a comparison between these individuals doesn’t make a lot of sense? “Should” Cindy be able to squat like the other woman? Umm, no. In fact, she very likely shouldn’t even try to squat like the other woman.
Now it’s time for you to bring this lesson home…
Have you caught yourself making a comparison between yourself and someone else? Maybe it’s the model on the magazine cover or the actor on your favorite Netflix show. Maybe the friend that “NEVER gains any weight,” or even yourself from twenty years ago. Heck, who wouldn’t want to be able to function as they did at twenty-two years old? The truth of it is that, for most of us, that is not realistic.
So these comparative thought patterns are often a sure-fire way to stay frustrated and stuck! They can encourage harmful negative self-talk and remove our focus from our real-world goals. And that’s why you’ve got to be on your toes to break that cycle if you want to transform yourself.
Don’t take this the wrong way, though. I want you to be what you want to be. I want you to have all the things you want and reach those lofty goals. But in all my years in this business, I have found that the people that accomplish the most and appear the most fulfilled are able to pursue those goals with a real-world perspective.
Look back, but not too far.
Try this. Instead of holding yourself to some perfect ideal, try comparing yourself today to the you from just yesterday. Did you make a better decision for lunch today than you did yesterday? Did you decide that you don’t need to have wine EVERY night and take the night off? Did you lift a heavier weight today than yesterday?
I find this to be a valuable tool in my life and is a strategy I try to implement in relation to my fitness, business, and musicianship.
So, back to my superpower. Is it strength? Speed? Flight? No, it’s perspective. And I’m happy to share it with all of our members so they, too, can “keep on keeping on” the road to health and happiness.
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