Thank My Self for Trying (Don’t Beat Myself Up for Not Succeeding)

I feel bad because I don’t have a great body. It sounds silly to say out loud. Actually it’s embarrassing to say outloud. I’m a grown man and I am relatively healthy as far as I know. So, I feel ridiculous admitting it.

I’ve wanted a great body since I was like six. I knew I couldn’t have have one til I was older, but I wanted to look like The Incredible Hulk (as played by body builder Lou Ferrigno) someday. In high school I lifted weights and played sports. I was kind of in shape for most of it. But the summer after high school I got depressed for four months and barely did anything exercise wise and got unhealthy. Then I go to college and get in amazing shape. I had the time and I had a good amount of energy. When I was a junior, I had a body I would love to still have today. Not like film star quality by any stretch, but more like an obvious strength. And I felt great. Then my senior year I got depressed, ate a lot, worked out little. Got to the heaviest I had ever been at that time. Moved to Chicago. Recommit to working out. Get back down to my weight in college. Years in Chicago pass and I get depressed and hit the gym with much less frequency. I get to my heaviest again. Do a ship, workout the first two months. Lived like Java the Hut the other two months (ate so many chicken strips and ranch dressing while watching ten to twelve episodes in a row of House or The Sopranos or whatever show I was gorging on at the time.

I don’t wanna belabor the point which is that I have had a gain and lose weight life without every getting to look like Lou Ferrigno. And I don’t even want that anymore. I don’t want to look like a body builder, but more like Matt Damon in the Bourne movies or something like that. Even that is embarrassing to say out loud. But it’s true.

So, essentially, I haven’t achieved a goal that I’ve wanted for nearly thirty years of my life. I don’t mess around with undone tasks. And by ‘mess around’ I do not mean ‘procrastinate.’ I procrastinate like a professional. I mean I don’t get happy about it. I get angry. I become the evil taskmaster nun in some 19th century British story who screwed up the kid for life with their mentally exhausting methods. I’m that bad. But I’m not that bad to a six year old British boy. I’m that bad to me. Here’s an example:

Today I was socializing with a group of people (students who just finished taking one of my classes) and telling an anecdote about a commercial audition I went on. The dialogue went as follows:

Me – ‘I struck up a conversation with this stranger in the waiting room for this commercial audition. And he was a looker. Built guy. Real handsome…”

Student – ‘In commercial auditions do they not take all the same type?’

Me – (looking offended) ‘Wow. The only descriptors I used were built and handsome.’

She felt a bit bad, but she didn’t mean anything by it. I’m not what most any person would truthfully call ‘built.’ That’s just a fact like the fact that I’m bald and white and don’t have a great jaw line. The difference in the facts is that I can’t control my hair growth or my skin tone (or my jaw line most likely), but I can theoretically control my weight. I say ‘theoretically’ in the common vernacular to mean ‘hypothetically’ I think. Because I have a guess that I could lose the weight and become ‘built,’ but the only definitive proof of that hypothesis is if I conduct the experiment and collect the data. I count at least eight different days in my life spread out between ages sixteen and thirty three (present age) where I have said, ‘Today’s the first day on my one year journey to a better body” or “Let’s just workout three to four times a week for the next three months,” or other similarly flavored goal statements. I think ten is a conservative estimate also.

The point is that I look at myself as one who’s failed to meet a goal with ten attempts. In science you collect a lot of data before declaring a proof. So, I can’t say definitively that I ever will accomplish this goal. I may never have a body that’s amazing. Does that mean, I’ll be mean to myself my whole life? That doesn’t make any sense. That sounds awful. But if I don’t change the status quo, that very thing will be my life.

I want to have a good body again. Or at least an equivalent to the body I had when I was a junior in college. It wasn’t the Hulk, but it was decent.

And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to be more built. I know people who’ve made similar goals and accomplished them. So, I don’t blame the goal itself for my meanness. What other cause could their be?

I had to make a model in my head and run the data I had access to.

The model: A boss and employee.

The data: ( tells us that the top three reasons employees fell ‘engaged’ (which makes them statistically more productive) are:

1. Communication of clear expectations

2. Listen to employee opinions

3. Recognition and Praise

I feel like the category you could put all three of these traits in would be called: Gratitude. If we’re truly thankful for the job our employees did then we would likely have a better relationship with them (#1) and be able to communicate more clearly (#2) and drop grand gestures (kind words, a card, a birthday cake, an in office trampoline, etc.) which is another way of saying gratitude (#3).

Well, I’m self employed. And I as my own boss need to not only be nicer to my employee (also me). Not only do I need to stop being a slave driver with a grudge, but I need to be grateful to myself for the work I do. That could potentially help me to be even more productive. But even if it doesn’t make me more productive, it will at least be more pleasant. Much more pleasant than feeling bad every time I take my shirt off or eat a cookie. Cookies are awesome. Why should I only enjoy the taste? Why not enjoy the taste guilt free?

I got out of working in an office partly because I didn’t like my bosses. I never felt like they appreciated me. They made my working life kinda hard a lot of the times. That made me hate the job. Every week day was bitter and sour. Now, I am my own boss. Why wouldn’t I be a lot nicer to myself?

I want a big house one day. But that does not prevent me from loving my apartment. I want a good body one day. But that does not prevent me from loving my current body. Rather than yell at myself for not achieving the goal, I’ll be grateful that I’ve done as well as I’ve done. Because we don’t know if I’ll ever accomplish the goal or not. But I know what kind of boss I want to work for if that’s the only way to accomplish it. Someone who’s nice and grateful and open to new ideas and smiling and joking and giving warmth and love. The guy I’ve been working for these last seven years (myself) is rather unpleasant. He’s fired. Hiring a new guy. This guy’s gonna be much nicer.

The problem is I don’t know the mechanism in the brain that I can use to switch my view of myself from ‘disappointing’ to ‘grateful.’ Is there a particular exercise or meditation or other act that would have healing properties over my psyche.? Or is it a matter of willing it to happen kinda like Neo in the Matrix? Or of writing it down like a short story told in first person?

Regardless of the how-to-change-it-part, I know that’s my new goal. Just like firing a real manager from a real company however, I can’t just do it instantly and find a replacement instantly. Or can I? Do I have to go through the steps of interviewing my inner self to make sure I’ll be a good boss before I hire myself back again? Do I need to give my current attitude some official write ups before a termination can be possible? I don’t know the answers to these questions.

If anyone has any tips, please let me know in the comments section.I want to make my brain think this way.

Shout out to Andreea for asking me the question about my commercial audition that lead to me telling the story to my girlfriend. And huge shout out to CJ for taking the time while she baked to ask me the question, “Have you ever thought about accepting your body for what it is?” and then proceeded to be patient with me as we talked about this very heady subject which lead to this blog post and a new goal for my mental heath.

Thanks, y’all!



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