Unrealistic expectation

Pauly was apologetic about missing workouts.  It struck me as being defensive on a subject I had no clue of – I certainly wasn’t judging him in any negative way because I look up to the dude.   He just kind of said it and we all knew this was how he was feeling about things.   You could almost hear his inner voice accusing him – “You don’t workout enough!” or “You’re taking it too easy and not being committed!”.   But now that I think about it, it was ME who created the context when he asked me how the workout went today.

I told him that you get out of it what you put into it and that I could have pushed a little harder – I even said, “I’m a little disappointed in myself”.

Later in the morning, I was chatting with Jenny after sending her a 10-mile double-hill route I had just created – for funsies – in MapMyRun.   She asked if we were going to run it and I laughed, ‘No way’.

“It’s scary for sure.  It’s been humbling and mentally challenging to try and get back to running again – I’m up for that challenge, but it is what it is 😦 “

She came back with a response that shook me, blew me away, got me choked up and smiling at the same time:

“You just need patience.  I remember after I got hurt and my 6 months no running sentance came to an end.  I went to run 3 miles and it SUCKED.  I couldn’t do it without walking….I was so bummed bc I had been working out and cross training.  I thought I’d be in decent running shape.  -my friend and PCP at the time looked me in the eyes and said- “Jenny, your expectations are completely unreasonable and you need to reset them.”

“Blunt and right on point”

It was exactly what I needed to hear.   It would be fair to say that my book-knowledge and my thinking-expectations would have lined up with this, but we all have these emotional-expectations that start with, ‘we should be able to..’ and, ‘you were able to do this easily before!  What’s your problem?’.   But we can’t just spit out the company line about taking time off or building back up gradually from where we are right now – not where we used to be or want to be.

For that, you have to reset that emotional-expectation and fall in love with the process all over again.

How to say this..?

Lately, I’ve really been struggling with a topic that I wanted to write about.  This is probably the fifth time I’ve sat down and started banging out a piece.

How to talk about missed opportunities and taking chances?  Meeting people and climbing out of our shells to do something we have no business doing.  Thinking of all these angles to look at it – the marketing standpoint; that we’re all selling something and our reputation is our “brand” so we have to watch what we say and to whom and strike the right balance of knowing the situation we’re in and what’s appropriate to that given situation – at least, in the context of what it is we want to accomplish or whether we even care.   (“Not caring” is still a kind of advertising message).   For that matter, living ‘authentically’ and being ‘in the moment’ is, in a disgustingly cynical sense, still a chosen modus operendi.

Think about the serendipity of how a seemingly inauspacious encounter might turn someone’s life around in a good way, or completely destroy one’s future.

When driving around, it’s easy to miss all of these side streets and alley-ways.  We’re going at a good clip and they just slip by.  But these are all crossroads and choices that lead to places we haven’t been before, people we haven’t met before or taken the time to engage.  We’re so accustomed and focused on where we’re going, we just don’t consider the possibilities of where life might lead us next if we were to recognize the cascading effect of a timely turn of the wheel, an introduction and smile or word of encouragement to a complete stranger.

Sometimes those turns, insignificant as they seem at first, become major headings in our lives – we trace everything back to meeting a person, moving across town, quitting a job, trying out a new hobby, taking a trip, taking a class, saying “hello”, or any number of things, or people, or turns that we had not previously taken – and now look at where they have led.

And while it is habit that keeps us running along in our familiar routines, it is also the comfort that comes along with it and the fear of losing it if we do something we don’t know.  Fear of being new at it and looking like we’re new at it.   Fear that noone is going to like you or that you won’t belong.   So I avoid.   I buffer with delicious food, games and distractions, religious fervor, political rage – I fill my life with useless things that consume my time and displace that immortal asset with the empty promise of tomorrows, regretful todays, and wasted yesterdays.

It is escapism.  I escape.  Then I escape again from the shame of escapism.   The crossroads slip by and I am aware, but they are new and terrifying and my normalcy is killing me slowly and comfortably.

Sometimes, it’s that nagging “Who do you think you are!” voice inside of our heads that makes us shy away from the blaze of that campfire confession, that stage light, or the plain realization that you will either act in life at a given point and in a given situation – or you will not.

So, I turn and discover how wonderful it is to be alive and to know you all.  To be human with you all and being in this thing together.   To offer what help I can give and to meet those wonderful people who help me out with their hearts full of love.

For me, that little turn was downloading a fitness app.   Little did I know it would lead me here and lead me to you all – “And that has made all the difference”.

 

Giving up ground!

I have a problem.  

It’s most apparent in my self-talk and I’m so accustomed to it, I almost never notice it; toxic as it is. 

The common narratives run along the lines that I’m unemployable – that’s a really nasty one – or that I’m not very smart.  Dumb.  These are some of the ways I think about myself and, amazingly, this is something I actually have some control over despite the assumed emotional imperative to the contrary.   The words and phrases whispering free in my mind chide me for not ‘saying the right things’ or being just on the wrong side of being too awkward and too weird.  

Recently, while listening to Brooke Castillo, something she said really stood out to me;

‘Self-confidence comes from a growth-mindset, and a fixed-mindset destroys self-confidence’ 

The difference between making mistakes with a growth-mindset versus a fixed-mindset is that having a growth mind-set means accepting that mistakes will be made but we relish learning and figuring out how to fix those mistakes and learn from them.  It also means that we’re not as afraid to try new things. Ecause we have the confidence of knowing that we can figure out mistakes as they happen and overcome obstacles as they appear- a fixed-mindset sees a mistake as evidence of something we believe to be true about ourselves.   This leads to bitterness when others point something out about us, kindly or otherwise, because our defense has become “Can’t you just leave me alone?!  This is just who I am!”   Or, “it’s not my fault!”, “you think YOU are having a hard time with this?  Try being me!”   It gets pretty corrosive when we decide to fix our mindset on a certain belief, and we avoid doing anything where we might fail, thus avoiding the blistering condemnation of our fixed belief. 

Fixed + mistake = ‘See? You really are dumb!, told ya!’  

Growth + mistake = ‘knew it would probably happen, now let’s see what went wrong and how to fix it!’

Maybe my challenges are different than yours by type and degree, but it doesn’t really matter   I think all of us plant a flag in the rich soil of self-doubt when we decide we just are a certain way.   It’s like throwing your hands up and surrendering that; I actually am dumb, or bad with numbers, or bad at remembering names, or unemployable, instead of looking at all of those things with a ‘roll your sleeves up and get to work on it, for as long as it takes’-attitude. 

I give up ground without even realizing it, using every little mistake as ‘proof’ of my self-destructive asssertions and, ultimately, not even trying anymore.. why should I…

“..it’s just the way I am!”

The parable of the Peach!

Not everyone is going to like me.  Some people will not be able to let go of some flaw they see in my character or there will just be something about me that really grinds their gears, or just doesn’t work for them.  That’s fine. 

It really is fine.  

I like myself and everyone has a right to their ideas and thoughts.  I can’t control that.  I don’t want to control it.  It isn’t that I don’t want to win them over or please them – to what ends have I gone to please someone else?  It doesn’t work because it would mean I would have to stop being authentically me. If I’m a jerk, I need to own it and fix it, but that is t what I’m talking about here. 

And no!  I’m not done being a people-pleaser.   I’m working on it, right now, here in these words and thoughts.  

But what about peaches.  If I had the most perfect peach, with just the right juicy ripeness and flavor; golden, orange, red and hints of purple, even if it was the best peach ever grown, there will be someone who doesn’t like peaches.  It won’t matter what color it is, how sweet it is or anything at all – someone will have a reason to dislike that peach.   There always be someone. 

And that’s ok. 
This isn’t directed at anyone specifically.  Thoughts after listening to Brooke Castillo podcast on “Rejection”

Promises to keep

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.  And miles to go before I sleep”  ~Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a snowy Evening

We talked about finding our “Why” in the first week at Psychosomatic Transformation Center.  Our “Why” is our own.  It is completely and utterly personal and, while they may share attributes or even sound exactly the same as someone else’s “Why”, it is fashioned after our own individual feelings and histories, our priorities and our unique individuality. 

Our “Why” is our promise.  It is the source of why we do what we do, why we lean-in when all we want to do is quit, and why we dust ourselves off and try again. 

Does thinking about your “Why” as – a ‘Promise to keep’ before you die – change the way you think about your “Why”?   Does it affirm your “Why” or does it change your “Why” in any way?

The Stillness

One of the first major struggles I deal with when I’m going to work out at the gym or joining some friends for a run are the feelings of being inadequate.   Jenny can run forever once she finds her pace, Sandi is always on pace and smiling, Brian is there to encourage, push, pull.. whatever it takes to keep me going.  And all of that leaves me feeling like the weak-link.   Inadequate.

But I go anyway because I’ve learned something.

Of the many reasons to get my sweat on at Psychosomatic, or to go out on the road with friends, is because in those runs and in those workouts, despite the wonderful encouragement and cameraderie, it’s still entirely about me.   My workouts have absolutely nothing to do with anyone else, any other age-group, any other fitness level or ability, any other condition or factor.   Whether there are high-fives or trash-talkers, the work is mine, and so is the reward.

When I can stay focused, closing my eyes from the stinging sweat, and as my mind is reeling off all the reasons I should stop, I find another level beneath the music and the noise, and it is quiet there.   There is only my breath, there is only my pain.

I am alive, and they are mine in the stillness.

All the “No’s” that led me here

NO.NO

My life is actually pretty awesome.   I don’t always feel that way, but when I stop and really think about it, I realize that I have so much to be grateful for.   I’ve always had a sense that I was going to do great things and, I don’t think I’m alone in this.   As I get older, the idea that I’m going to be remarkable, in any specific and tangible way, grows more and more distant; ever more remote.   It might even be a kind of hubris, but entirely human all the same.

“We all think we’re going to be great. And we feel a little bit robbed when our expectations aren’t met.” Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy

I want to say real quick too, that I actually like myself.   At least, most of the time, even when I mess up, I’m learning to laugh at myself and not take things so seriously.. not all the time, anyway.   What I’m trying to say here is that I can say nice things about myself without thinking too hard about it – and for some people, that’s a big accomplishment.

But..

I’m not perfect.   I haven’t reached some special state that has elevated me above the masses.  I’m not really all that special, after all.   I’m just a guy who has some ‘yes’s’ under his belt.   And, at the same time, I’m just a guy who still hasn’t let go of all the NO’s!

There are a lot of NO’s.

My big think is that I’m afraid.  I’m afraid to interview with ‘important people’ so I say no.   I’m afraid to climb out on that rock with my friends, so I say no.   I’m afraid to apply for that job because I don’t think they’ll take me seriously, so I say no.   I’m afraid to sign up for that race because I’ve never run that far, so I say no.   I’m afraid of working out that hard so I can get to Boston, no.

So I was going to write this blog about all the NO’s, and sure, they exist BUT..  I’m not really feeling the “No’s” right now.  I can think of yes’s for every no, right now.   Right now I know that the road to greatness is mundane, persistent and consistent action; never giving up, letting go of the things that are hurting you, and being your own champion.

If I DID  want to wallow in my miseries, then I’m sure I could look back and see a series of fear-laden “No’s”.  No to myself, no to offers and invitations from others, no to flights of fancy that weren’t so flighty after all.