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Working to impress "Them"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My legs were really tired on my ride today. I was going slower than usual and considering not going as far as I originally planned to go. I was having my usual mental argument with myself... something like this:

self1: you need to go farther... at least double what you've done now. anything less is wimpy.

self2: my legs are shot. I'm tired. I'd rather be home with my family. it's still a good workout.

self1: it's maybe an ok workout, but it's not great. there is nothing special about it. it's not above and beyond. you've been kind of slow... you should go farther to make up for it.

self2: this is a very respectable workout and I've also lifted weights today. it is enough.

self1: what would They think if They saw your workout log? How would it compare to Them? Is it good enough? Probably not.

OK, so you get the gist of it... I could go on but it's pretty much more of the same. But as I was going along I started to have a few thoughts creep in (from self3, maybe?) that I haven't had before in this daily mental conversation... thoughts like: who are They? why do I care about Them? Do They even matter to me? Are They reasonable? Are They knowledgeable about me or fitness? why does Their opinion matter? You know what I discovered... I don't know who THEY are!

Maybe They are partly You... there is some sense of accountability and responsibility because of my SP page, the people who send me notes saying I've encouraged them with my story. What if someone looking at my shared journals doesn't think my workouts are perfect and my food choices have lots of room for improvement. Does that matter?

Maybe They are all the friends and people in my past who knew Fat & Lazy Laurel. Do I punish and push myself to try to make up to Them for my past failings? Do I even owe them that?

Maybe They are the people I haven't yet met... the fellow athletes I bump into at events and we casually discuss training and workouts. Does mine hold up next to what They do? Should it matter? They don't know my physical limitations and I don't know theirs and yet I feel like I should impress Them in order to be considered a "real" athlete. I spend a lot of time thinking I'll be exposed as a fraud, that I haven't worked hard enough, that I'll be literally laughed at for thinking I can compete at athletic events.

What an amazing amount of negative self-talk and self-doubt... if I heard someone talking to their child the way I talk to myself I would be horrified. Would I ever say even a portion of what I say to myself to a friend? Of course not! Does my husband talk to me this way? Never! When did I give myself permission to mentally beat myself up day after day after day after day... and it surprises me that I still struggle so much with the mental aspect of weight loss when I've maintained my goal weight range for years? Huh, small wonder.

Maybe my next set of health and fitness goals needs to be more about being content with my own achievements measured against where I've come from and where I want to go... not anything to do with Them. They will never be satisfied. If I am able to succeed by Their standards in one area I'm sure I will soon find myself failing in other areas. It is time to stop treating myself so poorly because of Them.
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