Clearly I am not going to be talking about THAT pressure to perform, but I have been thinking about things that affect training performance, or perception of our performance.
For those of you who are new to my blog, you will see that I have a “warts and all” approach to my choice of topic and I often write about things I feel are worth airing.
Naturally I am a VERY competitive person. My goal is always to be THE best. It may not be possible, or ever actually happened, but it has never stopped me seeking it. It may not seem like it, but I hate being bad at things and I am not too thrilled about being out-done either. The latter is something I am working on because it is happening more and more given that I am exposed to more people who are better at things than me. Given where I am from, I have had the luxury of being considered very good at things. Reality has hit somewhat since travelling 😉
I mentioned in my “Condition Your Body, Focus Your Mind” post about how I have a lot of goals because I am inspired by other women to constantly improve and how I now feel I will never be “the best” at anything because I seem to be a Jack of All Trades. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be frustrating to never be the best … Sometimes I am my own worst enemy. Why I even need to to the best at absolutely everything is something perhaps that needs a deeper look at … :-/
There in lies the problem that some of us face, and possibly a negative side to seeing what others can do via Youtube, Facebook and blogs etc. While their purpose is to motivate and inspire, there can sometimes be a perceived “bet you can’t do this!” about it. For some people this can be intimidating and they may feel they will never measure up and, as a result, put way to much pressure on themselves to reach that standard or be that strong. Maybe on some level it seems that you can only be considered strong when, for example, you reach a 300lb deadlift; forgetting all the other factors that come into play.
This is not the fault of those posting these examples but more often it is a personality trait of the person watching/reading. Hands up, I am guilty of have those insecure thoughts and feelings about my ability that I will never amount to anything because I am not as strong as “her”. And do you know what? This actually has a hugely negative effect on my training as I feel that pressure to perform! For one thing, you end up so fixated on what you can’t do, that you fail to see all the small increments being reached on your own scale of progression. Not only that, but if you reach too far too soon, then you are only setting yourself up to fail as you won’t progress properly. This whole thing struck me in the gym as I am ignoring all the small victories I have had.
I am writing about this because I am guilty as charged, and this is something I will always battle with. Because I post videos of myself “being strong” or performing well, does not mean that I don’t suffer from self-doubt and sometimes a little envy of what other people can do. There’s no point in me brushing over this “darker side” of my personality because it’s there and I do kind of hate it, but, in a way, I guess this has provided some of my drive to do better; the problem is that it came from the wrong place. You see, I really don’t need to be better than anyone else, I just need to be a better version of me, in all walks of my life. Unless I am a competitive athlete of course 😉 Having an awareness of your flaws is the only way to begin changing them.
Instead, I need to think of my strength in relative terms, considering all the factors in my journey to date. Like, look how far I have come since last year or last month etc! Or, because of seeing someone else perform better than me I should really focus on how I can use that competitive energy to make my lift better than I did it yesterday, or appreciate that I have now reached a goal I never thought possible. What was negative, becomes positive!
What I never want is for the Strength Training “movement” to become like the “you are only fit if you have a six pack” pressure that I have ranted about in the past. It struck me that, just as it’s easy to focus on how someone looks, it’s also easy to focus on what someone else is doing, especially with Social Media constantly having us see exactly what others can do!! If it starts to get you down, then step back and focus on yourself for a while. I know there are many people who are not affected in this way, but I can empathise with those who constantly feel that what they can do, is not good enough. We should never have to feel this way and, it is within our power to stop it!
In your eyes, never let someone else’s ability eclipse your own – because no one has walked in your shoes or overcome the hurdles you have and you should wear your achievements like medals of honour. Try to see value in what you have to offer and celebrate it when ever you can!
PS – If it turns out that I am the ONLY one who has ever felt this way, then I will gladly check myself in to a Psychiatric facility 😛 But I have a feeling I am not the only one!
PPS – Update on the 8th Dec 2011 – I got a cool surprise on Facebook to see that Shape Magazine has listed MyoMyTV on their “The 10 Best Workout Videos on YouTube” 🙂 I may not be number 1, but, with my new-found wisdom, I am pretty damn proud to be on the list at all!! Thank you everyone for doing my workouts and proving that they work!