The Lies We Tell Ourselves

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

Jan 26, 2013

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

By Josh Hunt

In this riveting compliant riddled article by the Ginger Avenger (I am growing my beard out and it looks like my face is on fire. So if you see me, please don’t hit me in the face with CO2. I know you might be concerned, but that might kill me) I am going to discuss the lies that we tell ourselves and the validation/justification that we all need in life for our actions. I purposely waited until 2013 was a few weeks old to discuss this topic, for a number of reasons. The biggest being; that by now most of the New Year’s ‘Resolutionists’ (as I have deemed them) have probably given up on their big dreams of changing their lives this year and are now wrist deep in a Papa Murphy’s pizza (the stupidest pizza idea I have ever seen; seriously, you pay a ton for a pizza that isn’t even cooked!) and watching some inane crap like Two and a Half Men (if you are under the age of 40 and watch this show you should really consider giving up on the concept of comedy). To be honest I really dislike it when people get these crazy ideas like ‘by the end of this year I’m going to lose fifty pounds and have a six pack so hard you can wash socks on it.’ I especially hate it when these ideas affect my workouts, or really, for that matter, any aspect of my life.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it would be wonderful to see more people making fitness a priority in their lives. If you don’t believe me just go to Wal-Mart on a Sunday afternoon slightly after church lets out. Not only will it ruin your day and you might relinquish any hope you have for humanity, but you’ll see what I mean. Additionally, increasing the health of the general populous would be a huge positive for many reasons; the probability of increased life expectancy, one could assume insurance/government healthcare bills would be reduced, folks would have a better quality of life, there would be fewer motorized carts for lazy people to use at the aforementioned store, (for the love of God if you actually have difficulty getting around you’d have your own conveyance. There is no need to get in the power cart because you are simply too lazy or too out of shape to walk around a retail store!) just to name a few benefits.

In any case these ‘Resolutionists’ are the freaking worst. I do cardio a few days a week at a local gym, because it is easier to get to for a quick workout than my ghastly powerlifting gym. Additionally, the only piece of cardio equipment at the Belleville Weightlifting Club (BWC) is a stationary bike from the 1970’s that is missing its pedals and sounds like the Tin Man is getting murdered by a sawzall when ridden. To be honest I go to the local gym for cardio because I have had my fair share of junk food (but not Papa Murphy’s) and I need to drop some pounds. Yes that’s right I’m a chubby kid and I admit it (I do have to pat myself on the back for being one of the few powerlifters I know that regularly does some form of cardio). These newbie’s and ‘health enthusiasts’ with a reignited passion cram into the gym, have no etiquette, treat the equipment like their own personal sweat receptacle, take equipment that I want to use and mostly just get in the way. Not only do they annoy me with their methods of ‘working out’, but they love to talk loudly about this wonderful new diet they are on, and feel the need to tell everyone about how free weights are not as effective and more dangerous than the Smith’s Machine, that deep squats are bad for your knees, or some other crap like that. Let us not forget those folks that feel the need to play their God-awful music in common areas without headphones (If I hear another stupid dubstep song or crappy hip-hop sample of a classic song I am going to lose it. I listen to stuff you’d probably hate, but at least you can’t hear it). I am under the impression that many of these folks have never competed in a sport, or if they have it was years ago (please don’t regale me with your stories of greatness). They refuse to do any real research, default to what some fitness guru told Matt Lauer on the Today Show and are just generally a nuisance. Now that I have been overtly mean and cynical about something that annoys me, I will get to the point. Most of these people that throw themselves into the gym and make other ridiculous resolutions are lying to themselves. They want to believe that they can and will affect change in their lives, but most of them will fail. And, what is worse, after they fail, many (if not almost all) will give up for the rest of the year. Then try to get back on the horse when the next baby new year is released upon the world in less than 365 days. -As a note; failing is nothing to be ashamed of. If one learns from it, that is a positive. Plus, if you fail at least give it another go. Every single one of us will have to deal with failure; it has happened in the past and will happen in the future. Also it is possible to affect change in one’s life, but it there is no magic bullet or easy way to do so.

The reason I am picking on these well-meaning yet ill-informed miscreants, other than the fact that I have been dealing with them for the past few weeks (and I can’t find a freaking locker, which in May isn’t an issue), is they make me look at my actions and my justifications. Not only do they serve as a bad example for me, they force a mirror in my face and make me take a good long look at myself (currently I look like a mix between a red haired Wolverine and a lumberjack. I like to refer to myself a Gingerine). I have been dissecting several of my thoughts for the past few days, and seeing what type of fallacies I am feeding myself (and in some cases what type of crap am I feeding others). I have been lifting competitively for just over four years, and I have been involved in sports for as long as I can remember. I have also been afforded several opportunities to discuss training with world class athletes, incredibly intelligent competitors, and just plan strong guys and gals. However, there are many times I get too big for my britches and think I know more than I do. I can talk with some degree of knowledge about programming workouts and how several micro-mesocycles will fit into an overarching sixteen week macro-mesocycle. I can discuss the pros and cons of certain equipment and supplements. I can go into detail about how to manage one’s nervous system in regards to training with heavy weight. I can pull from my experience and help fellow lifers pick proper weights to use when lifting. But, the truth of the matter is, sometimes I am simply regurgitating things that I hear from better athletes and not infrequently this verbal regurgitation is to an audience of people who wouldn’t know any better (I am sorry). And, sometimes I am simply not as smart or good as I think I am. If I am lucky, I can add in some of my four years of experience and history in sports and training and maybe personalize some of those thoughts. Maybe, I might be able to figure out a correlation or causation that I can call my own. I can hope that I may be able to make a discovery that will help me realize a better lift with additional weight, or be able to help someone build a training template that increases their potential. But, often I take the discoveries and work of others and use them for myself. This is not the only thing that I am guilty of; I lie to myself about a myriad of other things. Such as a weight being lighter than it actually is. I think anyone that has lifted has been there, you know you throw some weight on the bar, go through with your sets, almost get crushed, then tell yourself you could have lifted more weight or have done a few more reps or sets. Another lie that I constantly tell myself is that I derive this or that. For example I sometime feel that I have earned a two pound steak because I had a hard training session. But seriously, who the hell needs to eat thirty-six ounces of red meat (well unless pride or a free meal is on the line then all bets are off. In some cases I am willing to eat myself sick just to prove to my friends that I am awesome………and in retrospect a glutton)? Telling oneself falsehoods can be a detrimental issue because self discovery, fact checking, intelligent analytics, and honesty (particularly to oneself) are all very important to becoming a top-tiered competitor (not that I am one) or to simply become a better person (not that I will be one of those either).

I am being internally hard on myself because, although I really may have some good input, I haven’t made the kind of effort that I should have to progress in the sport of powerlifting or in my day-to-day life that. I can’t tell you the last time I read the Reactive Training System Manual (if you are into strength sports you should really pick this manual up), or research bench press shirts. I am trying to think back over the past year and quantify the amount of time that I spent looking up nutritional facts and information in order to refine my diet in a way that would be optimal for what I do in and out of the weight room. I don’t even think I can say that I have spent much effort going back over my training logs and trying to figure out how my body reacts to certain exercises. On that note I haven’t really pondered how the laws of individual differences and diminishing returns have shaped my progress over the past year or how they will shape my future workouts. I can expand this train of thought into my everyday life as well; I haven’t read as many books as I wanted to. I literally have three novels by my bed that I have been meaning to read for months. I haven’t made the effort to watch more independent and underground films, or visit the art museum. I can’t say that I have put much time into learning more about computers even though sometimes I pretend to know what’s wrong with a CPU when a cute girl asks if I can help her with her laptop. At times I talk a big game, but what have I really done to be good or at least better than I was last year? This is a tough concept to deal with. When you look at yourself long and hard, one should not do it with rose-colored glasses. A deep self-analysis of who you are can really hurt. It may end up showing you how inflated your self-image is (on the converse you may find out that you are a wonderful person that is doing the best one can in this difficult life. But, I am a negative, self-deprecating bastard and I want to talk about how bad I am).

I personally believe the rationale behind these lies is rather human. We all need to feel justified and validated, especially when it comes to things we are passionate about, and even more so in a self-actualizing way. Could you imagine the guilt, self loathing, internal conflict, and other ill feelings that you would have if you couldn’t even self-rationalize your own actions? I am thinking that those type of feeling may drive you crazy. I have spent countless hours on and in weight rooms, football fields, tracks, courts, courses, gyms and so on. The joules that I have expended in the name of competition and fun are numerous. And, because of the time and effort I have put into the physical aspect of my life, not to mention other secondary and tertiary facets such as mental, emotional, and financial expenditures, I want to feel justified in my actions. If I don’t realize this self-validation I am pretty sure I’ll feel that I have wasted more than I can even articulate. Questions will crop up in my head like ‘why am I doing this?’ or ‘what is the point?’ or possibly ‘Maybe I should pour myself into something more fruitful. ’ Basically, I’d question myself at a level that would send tremors throughout my persona and possibly cause mental and emotional damage. Feeling justified in your own actions is something that is so basic not only to simply survive, but to thrive as a human being. One cannot progress if there is no self-validation; we can’t be second guessing ourselves all the time. Confidence and personal justification are key factors in self-fulfillment and personal growth.

The idea of this validation is multilayered and is comprised of things like ego, pride, intellect, and several other pieces of the mind that make us all human. I have a certain amount of pride in the fact that I have some ability and knowledge about sports. Outside of my powerlifting brethren, I can say I am stronger than many people at my office, the local gym, and heck maybe even out in public. Because of this I’d like to think that I can speak to the sport of powerlifting. One would think that at some point a person involved with something that they care about would gain enough knowledge and experience to become a subject matter expert in that field (in my case that would be lifting weights in a dirty, hot room full of dudes). This is especially true if a person does this act on a regular basis (or in my case a pretty much a daily basis, which means my social life is just kicking). It would be foolish to think the time spent on these activities, that are such an integral part of our lives and who we are, was not as productive as we might have thought or wanted. Or, that we didn’t collect the type or amount of knowledge that we should have or were expecting to. One wants to feel that they have matured as an athlete as well as a person, and that there was some amount of return on investment by putting forth the time, effort, money, and whatever else has gone into a specific endeavor (however, the idea of the slippery slope of becoming a legend in one’s own mind due to this return on investment must be noted. Essentially, if you are doing well in this regard don’t be an ass and develop an over the top ego). In many cases we want to feel justified and validated even if we didn’t put the recently mentioned variables into an event. Think about the justification that you have gone through in a debate/argument that you’ve had with someone you care about. For example; I have gotten into heated conversations with friends about movies facts. I argued until I was blue in the face that Guillermo del Toro directed Blade, only to be proven wrong (he directed Blade 2 for those interested). I argued because I thought I was right, and felt justified. It ended up in me losing the debate, and having to admit my defeat to my friend, which sucked and hurt. But, the scary thing is, this issue had little gravity as compared to the things that I am passionate about i.e. lifting (let us not forget music, food, and comics). If I felt justified in what I did and it turns out that my decision wasn’t the best course of action, I’d probably kick myself. If it was a large enough disappointment or embarrassment I’d be crushed. Now, I believe, that feeling of failure would be multiplied exponential if it was dealing with something to do with weight training, particularly if this information came from a perceived novice or someone ‘not as good’ as myself (not that one can’t learn anything from a novice or a less experienced person or that I am that knowledgeable or adept in the sport. Some folks have great inputs that can make you better. But, that knowledge sometimes comes with a side of crow).

When it comes down to it we are all guilt of lying to ourselves. In many cases this is dangerous. It is idiotic to think that you are the best at anything. Because when it comes down to it, there is someone better out there than you. There are people that are stronger, train harder, have better knowledge and resources, are more charismatic, you name it. Then again, there is another side to the lies we tell ourselves. Sometimes they are necessary evils. There are times that I have to lie to myself about how great the day I will be after a long week of training and work, just so I will get out of bed. I think most of us have lied to ourselves after a bad date saying ‘that person just wasn’t right for me’ or something similar just so that we can continue on searching for the relationship we want. When it comes down to it, New Years is really just another day, but we can lie to ourselves and think this is the starting point for a better me. When it comes down to it there is nothing wrong with some of these untruths that we tell ourselves. In some cases it helps us cope with larger issues, nastier situations, and more important things at hand. In other cases these misrepresentations allow us to maintain our sanity in a world where there is never enough of you to go around. Some of these justifications and validations are good; when you get beat down by a tough society as a good person, it is easy to give up, become cynical, or stop caring. In some cases the lies that we tell ourselves help us to continue being the person that we are, and bolster our beliefs. These lies can add heft and resilience to our personal armor that protects us from the crushing weight of a planet with never ending worries and hardships. Be honest with yourself, think about some of the mistruths that you may be telling yourself just to keep going (such as Josh is a good writer and I owe it to him to finish this dreadfully long article. Or that watching the Daily show is a good substitute for reading the BBC news).

We should all let the lies that we tell ourselves ebb and flow. This is because we are human and sometimes need added internal support to get through tough times and let these fibs stack up. On the other hand, we need to realize and identify the detrimental things we tell ourselves which are holding us back. Then cut down on the pile of self-deception that lies at our feet. It is important that we be realistic with who we are. However, it is also important to be positive and have hope in our lives (let’s face it sometime hope feels like an outright lie. But, we can’t function without it). Really, the difficult thing is to decide what things that we are telling ourselves that hurt us (such as my workouts are the best they can be and I can’t learn anything from anybody. Or that Jimmy Buffet is a great musician. You know deep down his musical junk food escapist crap is simply horrible noise pollution. And, yes I laughed my ass off when he fell off the stage in Australia, damn Parrot Heads!). Then decide what things we need to tell ourselves to keep going, to inspire us and help us to become better, even though they may be bent truths or outright fallacies. Make a resolution to be self-aware and honest with yourself. Because you are going to be the one that either evolves or eats your own filth like a farm animal (and I may be getting used to the sour taste myself).

– If dysfunction is a function, then I must be some kind of genius. Pitchshifter.

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