I woke up in the middle of the night after the strangest dream. I was in a boxing ring fighting myself but my opponent was about three stone lighter, had no wobbly bits and looked like she had never had to use extra strength anti wrinkle cream. We never actually landed any punches but just danced around a lot and ducked and dived. We both had on black outfits,she in the tight vest and lycra leggings and me in my baggy black sweats on. We both had on a pair of bright pink boxing gloves, and had the same team in our corners.
When I woke up it was blinking obvious that I had been fighting the perfect image of myself, the one that doesn’t have to wear extra strength lycra under dresses, the one that looks like she never has a hair out-of-place and wouldn’t wobble on the running machine. So I had a thought that if I can dream of that self, why can I not be that self? I had a wee self motivation talk about goal setting and a we can do this thing but within about thirty minutes of killing myself at the gym on Monday night, it got a wee bit tough. My legs were giving way underneath me and I could not find the mental strength to keep going. And after …
- 10 minutes of the cross trainer at a faster pace than I would normally do
- 20 minutes power walking on the running machine ( ten at a raised level but then same speed)
- 15 minutes of the rowing machine ( only one stop)
- 20 minutes on the bike, varying the speed and level
… I looked at myself in the mirror and heard myself saying “wimp, you could do more, man up and go lift weights”. Only problem was my legs were barely carrying me to the door but the self motivating me wanted to carry on. It was never going to happen.
So my thought is this, when does self motivation cause a lack of self compassion and start to become negative? Let me clarify what I mean by self compassion. I am not talking about a there there feel sorry for yourself, I mean a recognition that you worked hard, really did do your best, and have now earned a chill time. I looked at myself in the mirror and immediately thought you lazy cow, grow a pair and get going but perhaps I should have recognised that I had worked bloody hard and it was time for a rest. My brain had gone into overdrive though and I tried to focus on that image in my dream to get my mindset right to go do some weights but I found that the self motivation was becoming quite aggressive and I was getting angry.
I left the gym not feeling a good worked out tired but quite upset that I couldn’t do what I had set myself to do. By the time I got home, both motivation and compassion had been so busy fighting each other, I fell asleep. I have to admit that the next day was not a good one, allowing that inner struggle to take hold had exhausted me mentally and when that happens negativity, doubt and sheer lack of self-confidence really do take hold. Luckily karma made me bump into the right person at the right time and after a brief chat, I left with a reminder of these words
Time to try to flip the whole thing on its head. In my opinion, to be compassionate to yourself is also a brilliant way of finding motivation and boosting that waning self-confidence. For me it is not the you TRIED your best so here is a medal for just taking part thought, it is the you DID your best so the next time you WILL get that medal and have really EARNED it! By finding the right positive motivating thoughts we start to do more and perhaps, more importantly, feel like we are achieving those goals. As one friend said to me, the pink boxing gloves in my dream represented the compassionate side, the fact that we didn’t actually land any punches was me being kind to myself but at the same time proving that,thanks to @GymGuyMark coaching, I could actually land one in real life if I wanted to. I have taken a bit of a battering over all this but the main thing is with me in my own corner, a great team supporting you and a fabulous pair of boxing gloves, you can fight the fight.
Ding ding round two!
PS Thank you for the support , you know who you are!