There is this running joke in my group of friends that my real “coaching secret” for clients is that, after they start working with me, they break up with their lame ass partners. While I’m clearly not out here wrecking relationships and certainly never want my clients, or anyone for that matter, to have to deal with the heartache and not so great feelings that come with breakups…this is kiiiind of true. The irony is this has very little to do with me or their partners. It’s not about leaving relationships – it’s about breaking up with the bullshit stories we tell ourselves.
We all walk around with a set of narratives in our minds. Some of those are positive and productive, and some of those are negative and limiting. Those stories are how we make sense of our experiences, the feedback/rewards/punishments we received as a consequence of those experiences, and the subsequent meaning and value we assign to all of that. Those narratives can inform how we view ourselves, others, and how we move through the world around us. They can tell us that we aren’t worthy of success, that we must settle for a person who doesn’t treat us well, or that we aren’t capable of accomplishing that big goal that we really want.
For example: let’s say you are in a relationship and every time you try to have a discussion with your partner about your need for communication, you get told you’re “needy” or “too emotional” or “seeing things that aren’t there”. Repeat this for a few times and pretty soon, you start to believe that maybe you are too needy, too emotional, or making things up. This is a pretty clear cut and extreme example and often times, the process is more subtle and subversive than this, but the point remains – we are constantly editing and rewriting the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.
Now, what the hell does this have to do with health and fitness? In short, everything.
These stories influence our behaviors, habits, and the actions we do and do not take, including those relating to our fitness. We tell ourselves that we are “weak”, that we aren’t “disciplined enough”, or that our deadlift sucks. We consistently and pervasively devalue ourselves and formulate an identity around being the person who just “can’t” or for whom everything goes wrong. We take ourselves out of the driver’s seat of our lives and simply become a passenger. We also keep ourselves stuck in this narrative because we cannot see beyond our past experiences and engage in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Once we begin to take steps to make positive changes in our lives through fitness, nutrition, etc. these stories begin to unravel. Now, as we add weight to the bar, we have clear and consistent proof that we are capable of doing hard things. As we practice positive self-talk and affirmation for those PRs, we begin to practice that outside of the gym. When we prioritize our health and feeling good, we begin to realize just how nice it is to feel good and be back in the driver’s seat. We slowly begin to design our lives to be ones that are positioned around hard work, the constant quest for self-improvement, and the recognition that we can actually do things to change our circumstances. Those former bullshit stories? Sorry, but they don’t have a place here.
There are times when bettering yourself makes you realize you deserve better. Valuing yourself and believing in yourself means that you change your story. Bettering yourself requires you to break up with your own bullshit. Like any other break up, it may be a bit painful and uncomfortable, but there is nothing but greatness waiting on the other side.