I was listening to Krista Scott-Dixon on the Fitcast Podcast yesterday and she said something that stood out to me (she said a lot of great stuff, listen to it here – episode 386 and 387): what if we were okay with being crappy at something? What would happen if there was an aspect of ourselves that we just acknowledged we weren’t that good at?
Now to be clear, Krista wasn’t suggesting we just stop trying to improve ourselves and become lazy and complacent…that’s not it at all. What I took away from the discussion with FitCast host, Kevin Larrabee, was that, rather than continually beating ourselves up over every single aspect of our lives that we have struggled to improve, acknowledge that there are certain parts about our lives that we’re just going to be crappy at. Her example was clearing off her plate. She will always clear her plate, no matter how hungry or not hungry she is. She’s acknowledged that she’s crappy at controlling this, so instead uses external measures to work in her favour: smaller plates for example.
Doesn’t that sound freeing in a way? I think about all of the parts of me that I want to improve, and to tell you the truth, it can get pretty overwhelming at times. To be able to acknowledge that there may be certain things I’m just not good at gives me more space to focus on those things that I know I can get better at.
More importantly, it forces me to acknowledge that I’m human. It’s funny, I always tell my clients to be kind to themselves, to always incorporate self-care, and to be compassionate with their inner voice. But oh em gee is that something I STRUGGLE with. The self-care piece I’m starting to get down, but being compassionate and kind is a whole other story.
I am continually striving to be better in ALL aspects of my life, and while there is certainly value to that, it can also get pretty damn exhausting. Krista used the analogy of a seatbelt when explaining this concept, and it makes sense. We wear seatbelts to protect ourselves, because no matter how hard we try, we cannot bench press a car dashboard going 60km/hr. The seatbelt is an external mechanism that helps to protect us.
And we can use external mechanisms to help us in other areas too, especially those that we’ve acknowledged we’re just not that good at. One of mine (funnily enough, Krista mentioned this particular one in the podcast): the food table at parties. I go into these things with the best of intentions, yet if I find myself situated near the food table for an extended period of time, I am constantly reaching for more food. There could be so many reasons for why this is, but when it comes down to it, my willpower around food at a party is limited.
I usually end up leaving those parties feeling like shit. Sure, I had fun with the other guests, but I’m often beating myself up for having no willpower. My stomach usually hurts from eating so much and I promise myself that I’ll do better next time. Except that usually never happens. I go into it wanting to challenge myself, but what if I switched that thinking around and went into it accepting that this is just one of those things that I struggle with?
Rather than setting myself up for failure, I could approach it differently. Get a small plate of food and move to the other side of the room, engage in conversation, eat something beforehand. All of these are things I could do as my own version of the seatbelt.
For someone who has perfectionist tendencies, acknowledging that I might actually be crappy at something is a bit of a tough pill to swallow. But you know what? It’s also one hell of a relief.
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