This is a guest post by Coach Elise Perez
Let’s say you have two workout partners; Alex and Casey.
You and Alex go to the gym together. You walk into class, find your space on the floor and take a look at the WOD on the board. Immediately, Alex says ”Oh no… pulls ups. You suck at pull ups. This workout is going to be the worst.”
You get through the warm-up and are feeling pretty good. Now, it’s time for pull ups. You try a few reps and Alex laughs out loud: “This is embarrassing for you. You’re not even getting close to the bar!” Every bit of the way, there’s Alex’s voice in your ear: “Your upper body is so weak.” How come they can do this and you can’t?” “You should give up.”
The next week, Casey accompanies you to class.
You glance at the board, pull ups again. Casey notices your reaction and says, “Alright, pull ups. They’re tough, but this is an opportunity to work on them.”
You go for that first rep, but don’t quite make it. Casey tells you, “That wasn’t bad, try again.” Second rep, you don’t make it. Casey reminds you, “That was better than what you got last week!” You take a modification. Casey says, “This makes more sense for you… let’s do it!”
Which workout partner would you rather have?
Most of us would hit up Casey over Alex every time.
Think of yourself as your own workout partner; you can either be your own friend, or some cruel inner drill sergeant. You may believe this sort of bootcamp brutality works as a way to motivate yourself and change your behaviors. But let’s consider a different approach.
A more effective way to meet your goals: Self compassion.
Shame is debilitating. How motivated would you have felt to keep trying your pull ups while a berating inner dialogue (much like the voice of Alex) ran through your head? How likely would you be to show up to that same class the following week?
When you’re kind to yourself, you feel better. You will be more motivated to try again, to try harder; to develop more grit and determination. Perhaps most importantly, if you can relate to yourself more compassionately, you can accept your “failures” and move towards change.
So how are you talking to yourself during your training?
Next time you hit a workout, take these three steps:
- Be mindful. Notice if you’re beating yourself up
- It’s okay to struggle. It’s deliberate practice and it’s supposed to challenge you
- Take action. Actively give yourself kindness through words
Give it a try! Like anything, it takes practice. But you know how to be good and caring to others, it should be no different when it comes to yourself. Pull yourself up to that bar!