If you know me, you know I love 80s music, and as much as this is a song title from the band Icicle Works – a really great song too. It is also something we deal with in fitness all the time.
No, it isn’t trainers screaming at clients, that only works on TV, and even then it doesn’t work, it just gets ratings. (No thanks).
Stay with me here… But I am talking about the little voice in your head. Not in the clinical psychosis version, but the average person who has that little voice that is based on life’s experiences and tells us whether we can do stuff or not. Whether we are safe, making sense, making a good choice or a bad one, ‘your conscience’ some would say. It is both supportive and unsupportive based on a massive library of past experiences, and therefore; based on your self esteem. Basically: how you see yourself. I am speaking specifically of the limiting and unsupportive voices here, the ones that don’t seem to believe in you. If you are one of those amazing people that has a strong sense of self esteem, and you think you are awesome no matter what, then this is harder for you to relate to maybe, but it still applies.
As trainers and a coaches, we see it frequently, and sometimes, quite often, our job is to help people get past their own little voices. Here’s where this comes in; let’s say you decide to try something new, like getting fit, or stand up paddle boarding, or cycling, or obstacle course racing. Could be anything you are currently not able to do. While you sit on the couch, safe at home and see a commercial for whatever you are considering, the voices whisper. You see the images, think it looks great, and rationalize that being fit, or doing that thing would be great. Your clothes would look better, you would have more energy, you would likely live longer with less issues, so many things would be positively affected. The little voice in your head might say something softly, maybe even a snicker, or a derisive crack ‘yah right, like _we_ could do that.’. But it is a soft, small little whisper. Manageable for the most part, (but crippling for someone with depression) because it is just a little quiet thought.
However… if you get up, get in your vehicle and drive to the gym to get more information on joining… The little voice starts to yell, or even scream! ‘What are you doing here?!’ ‘It’s not safe!’ ‘People will laugh! ‘You won’t fit in!’ ‘They will point and stare!’. None of that is true, by the way.
The voice goes from a whisper to a scream.
Why? Why does this happen? Simple… self preservation. That is to say, preservation of your current self, your current comfort zone. Who you define yourself to be right now. Back home on the couch is comfortable, baggy clothes hide parts of you that you don’t like, you choose activities and places to be that are within your current comfort zone. There is nothing wrong with this, unless you are unhappy with any of it…Then it is a prison.
This is where you have to turn up the heat on the little voices. Challenge their authority and call them on their bluff. Walk into the gym, or the class or the lake or wherever you need to be to try on that new challenge. The voices will freak out as they feel the risk of failure get closer.
But if you can keep going in spite of it, and just start…then something happens. You do not fail, you succeed in some way. Nobody laughs, in fact, they help you. You are not ridiculed, you are supported, encouraged and you grow evidence that the voices are wrong.
This is the challenge of anything new… It’s scary and we are designed to play safe from experience. You know this if you are a parent as you watched your toddler test every single rule and learn what was safe and what wasn’t. School is a large experiment in testing and learning what works and doesn’t. It is a coping mechanism that has served us since we were two years old.
Your greatest successes exist outside your comfort zone, but to get there, you have to push from a whisper to a scream.