“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
This is no doubt an emotional time. We have the uncertainty of how our nation will move forward. As of the time of this writing - there hasn’t been a winner in the presidential election. We all wait patiently, (or impatiently) as we wait to hear how the polls will finish and show us who the winner is.
I understand that there is a lot riding on this - many people feel that either the world will be saved, or be destroyed simply by one person taking office over the other. I’m not here to argue the importance of the leader of our country, This has ramifications far past my expertise.
However what I want to talk about today is how this doesn’t matter for you. Yes, shocking I know...whomever is in the white house for the next 4 years will have far less an impact on you than you might hope and feel right now.
I’m not here to argue for any one side of the aisle, I’m simply here to bring attention and focus back onto the self. At the end of the day you only have one person that you can impact...and that one person is yourself.
The failure of forcing others to change
We all know how it feels to see a friend or family member and want to help them become a better person. You might look over to your spouse and encourage them to workout more, eat better and ultimately become more like you. While these are good intentions, how often does this actually work?
What happens to your own motivation when others don’t take the advice and help that you are so diligently putting out there?
Do you start to stress about their future? What if they never eat healthy and never workout...will they die at an early age? This is a legitimate concern that many people might have about their spouse or loved ones.
This especially reigns true for parents - I hear it all the time. Parents who are concerned and hoping for the best for their kids. To be able to live a life they are happy with, to be safe and loved. Also to succeed and find their calling...it’s all a hope of a loving parent.
Now think about this - how often do you feel that your “nagging” topics of exercise and nutrition have fallen flat?
Do you feel that you’ve had success and that you’ve finally “reached” this person?
You know I've worked in social services and now the fitness industry. Both industry’s attempt to help others accomplish goals, achieve a life that they can be proud of and feel happiness. I know a little something about helping others to change for the better.
What I’ve learned is that the old saying is so true … “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”.
I can talk about fitness and give tips on making nutrition easy till I’m blue in the face and STILL find that people don’t care to listen or don’t make the actual change that I’m suggesting. This is my career and business yet I can admit that in most cases - I have nothing to do with their change.
Change is something that is personable and needs to be acted on by an individual. I can’t force broccoli down a client’s throat who wants to lose weight and feel better! They need to make the decision to cook it, to eat it, and to do it regularly. (This would not be fun and probably am not getting paid enough to do that!)
It’s a sad reality sometimes when I start to realize that I can only help people but so much - even though my desire, my training, and my skills feel like more than enough to impact someone.
It all comes down to you - it comes down to what you can do to change your own self.
Change yourself, change the world
I love the quote that started this blog from the Buddha because it puts the responsibility on the self.
The self is where all the magic happens, the self is where we have the opportunity to truly reshape our world.
And yes - I say “our” world but what I really mean is “your” world. Everyone has a different experience of life and how we choose to live it will determine if you change it for the better, or for the worse.
For example when I think about myself as a coach - it would do me no favors to imply my belief about fitness and nutrition to my clients. My beliefs are my own - what works for me is unique to me and won’t work for other people.
I do really well with eating just 2 meals a day, working out 3-4 times a week and enjoying snacks when I want them. Will I then go to all my clients and tell them that this is the only way to lose weight, feel strong and be in shape?
No, this wouldn’t work to help the person make a change for themselves, it would be met with resistance and would ultimately not help my client achieve any kind of success that they are hoping for.
What would be better is adapting how I coach people:
Am I being open to their suggestions and their struggles?
Am I being supportive enough to make people feel comfortable to bring up their own ideas about positive change?
Do I lack any research education that I can learn to better improve my understanding of processes?
These are the things that I can impact, that I can change...it’s all on me to work on being the best coach that I can be. This in turn helps to change others because I’m bringing the best of myself to them.
What’s something that you’ve wanted to change about yourself? Is it your relationship with a friend, family member? What are you doing that will help change this relationship into a more positive experience?
IF you find that you do more blaming and scapegoating, you might be pushing your responsibility for change onto other people. Once you give that responsibility to other people - you give up your chance to better your personal environment. All the changes hinge on if that person believes you, or changes in the way that you are hoping they would.
Focus on what you have control over
Right now is primetime for people to feel that they have no control over things in their life. With an election, with social relations based on beliefs of one candidate or another, the economy, the virus...these things weigh on us.
It can get downright depressing, upsetting, and sad to see others who may not believe the same things that you do. Hoping that others are exactly the same as you or hoping that they can understand the same way is a moot point.
I think that everyone inherently knows this to be true but have a hard time separating what is in control and what isn’t in control.
Let’s talk about a few things that you have complete control over:
What you put in your mouth
The actions you take
The way you treat other people
The way you react to situations
The way you understand your emotions
The values that you hold
I want you to think about these things and start to put your FULL focus on these aspects of life.
What’s the point of hoping to change others when it is physically, mentally and emotionally impossible? That’s not a way of me saying you shouldn’t CARE at all about others, their opinions and their outcomes. However you should always START with the self.
If you find that you are getting super upset with what’s going on in the world - you need to KNOW that you can’t impact the world, you can only impact how you interpret these things. If you are comfortable being miserable, and depressed in response to these outside forces - just know that you are letting these forces control how you feel and how you see things.
What you can do to stay sane
I’m going to wrap up this post with some tips on what you can do right now to bring it back to the self and refocus on what’s important.
Firstly, ask yourself “What am I truly feeling right now”?
Trying to navigate your own emotions is tough and can lead us down a bad path. IF we take a moment instead to just get down to the bottom of the emotion, it might be easier to handle and to move forward with.
For example if I’m upset that someone isn’t following an exercise program in the way that I hoped, I might feel like I’m a failure and that I am not good at what I do. Once I can accept that this is my feeling, I can move forward by asking myself how I can do better and ask the client what they really need.
In this I’m also asking myself “What can I do to be better?”. Having an open dialogue and thought process on what it would look like to be better might help pave the way and answer your question on what your next move should be.
Lastly, ask yourself “How is this serving me right now?”. Is this emotion a feeling that is helping me with something? Is this hurting me in some way? Be honest and compassionate with yourself. You will find that more often than not our emotions are just quick reactions to how we truly feel. They cover up the true meaning behind thoughts, some of which are not pleasing.
These things can all be used to reframe what is in your control, and what isn’t. These next few weeks, and months will be times when you are tested. Your patience, your kindness, your self-preservation!
At the end of the day - we all are going through this together. We all have the same worries, struggles, hopes and dreams. Everyone’s journey to that place is different.
The ride is much smoother and calmer if you are able to always ask yourself , “What do I really have an impact on?” and turn the emotion inwards to the self.
I hope that this post wasn’t too political for you - I just know that this time people need to remember what they can actually do to make a change rather than spend so much energy and emotion on those things that are out of control.
You have more power than you think - it's already inside of you!