Author: Rich Adams
Training is hard. Let me stress, training is worth it, training can be fun, and it’s rewarding – but even if you love to train (and that’s me) it’s still really hard. For many people this difficulty is what draws them to their training, having a challenge every single day makes life electric, but for the sake of this discussion I’m speaking less about the physical part of your training and more of the mental part – and a very specific one at that.
You see, for some people this mental barrier – what makes it so hard – still needs to be defined. That said, it’s my belief that when you know and understand a limiter of this nature you can more easily overcome that limiter. So today we are going to talk about one if the biggest barriers to happy training that isn’t talked about in the way that I feel like it ought to be – GUILT – in one form or another the single biggest barrier to many people’s happy training.
We’ll start with this: what is guilt – in an athletic application? Guilt is a special sort of emotion and you will often hear people say “Oh, you don’t have to feel guilty”. It can take on many different faces, usually refocusing your attention from what you are doing to what you feel as though you ought to be doing. After all, every person feels that a lot of things depend on them, and guilt reminds us of every… single… one – “shouldn’t I be taking care of this other thing/person”. For me, this comes from two places:
Yup, that’s right, if you train regularly you are the selfish sort of monster who doesn’t deserve the love of your fellow man. Okay okay, JUST KIDDING – but the honest part is this: training is selfish and I’ll tell you why.
That’s right, being selfish is an okay thing to be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you leave your baby in a crib home alone with a gerbil feeder full of milk for two hours so you can go cycling, but leaving your baby in responsible hands for some “you” time, while selfish in that it is caring solely for one’s self, certainly isn’t bad. All too often we dedicate things like feeling pride in ourselves to some trash bin of emotion we should be ashamed of, but that’s simply not the case. You should feel proud of working hard and enjoy the results from those efforts!! Being selfish isn’t bad, I’d argue it is a necessity of life – here’s the trick: pretending that you aren’t being selfish when you are will eat you up inside. No given emotion is bad, and selfish is NOT a dirty word, it’s how you utilize it that makes it positive or negative. If you make a decision that is all about you and being happy with yourself, well that outweighs the guilty feelings – as it should.
Because here’s the other thing to know – the guilt won’t go away – and that’s okay too. Now don’t mistake your capacity to manage it with its disappearance. Sure, you will learn in time to cope with it, but from my point of reference it will be there for at least 25 years and counting. And it’s okay to be there – you are a dedicated person who cares for and loves your family and friends and values your job and coworkers, and that means you feel an obligation to them. That’s human nature, so congratulations – you’re a human. Knowing this about yourself and being honest about it doesn’t make that guilt fade away, but allows you to accept it as part of your journey, providing the tool you need: to know why it’s there and to include it as a piece of a larger puzzle, the one that makes you…. you.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t or should feel guilty about training and the time it takes. What I’m saying is that you feel how you feel, and that’s okay. I’m saying that if you are driven to train, and guilt can be a limiter, then understand it, know it’s part of you, and know that honesty with yourself will help you make this emotion one more piece of your foundation instead of a barrier to building it. After all, if you missed out on this thing that makes you happy or gives you peace, then the people you are missing it for would probably feel guilty if they knew they were keeping you from it.
In conclusion – train with pride, make a muscle in the mirror you are impressed with, brag a little, it’s okay to miss a workout when someone wants you around, but its equally okay not to. Most important, know that all the things that make you who you are, guilt and all, can make you stronger so long as you let them.