You would have heard the phrase “no excuses” in relation to fitness training. I get the point, but the assumptions, for me, are askew.
When you eliminate shame and fear, the issue of excuses becomes redundant. All you are left with are reasons and actions. Reasons may be meaningless out of context, but in context, all reasons are valid. And there may be a million reasons to either train or not train – and sometimes one or the other is going to be the right answer for you. All of it is dependent on context.
But excuses? They only exist in relation to shame and fear. When you are unashamed, you are free to perceive the truth of your own situation clearly, without judgement. And you will know if it is appropriate to work or to rest, not that those are ever your only options.
Shame clouds perception. As does fear. We cannot rely on ourselves to make good choices for our own wellbeing, when we are prejudiced by fear and shame.
This is one of the reasons self-acceptance has become so important for me. It seems to clear the way for the development of awareness and clear perception, which enables action. When you are no longer clouded by prejudice, the notion of correct action is no longer overwhelming, because you have no need to compensate for insecurity, or push beyond your own capacity simply for the sake of it - instead if you need to do this, there will be a clear reason to do so, and you will value it. And when you are not clouded by fear, you become immune to exploitative advertising, and you start to see through the lies of the fitness industry. But none of this is supposed to be heavy. You may work or not, at things that are meaningful to you, in the context of your own life, values and circumstances. It’s only perception, it’s not forced. Work and rest both have value.
All choices are valid and will impart valuable lessons and knowledge, so when do you ever really get it wrong or fail? If you can accept that all experiences have value, the idea of a right or wrong way to live begins to fade. Obviously, all this sits within a context too. I’m talking fitness, not ethics or morality.
Too often, in fitness, we are told to harden up. In sports, and in life, softness is a useful skill. Some of the quickest athletes in the world are fencers. They don’t achieve great speed by hardening up. It’s a cliché, but the supple reed does not break, while the brittle branch snaps easily. The skill of yielding, of understanding and compassion can be applied well to your own development.
When you can see what’s important to you, and you know what to invest your energies into, you won’t be working blindly and intensely at every damn thing you are told to do. You can’t be the best at all things, and smashing it across the board every day at the gym will only lead to burn-out. But of course, burning out is a valid experience too, and I have managed to learn some things from my own experiences.
Work at what deserves your attention. Relax too, and y’know… be human. Don’t feel ashamed at the notion that you are one of the teeming masses. Soft and supple things are good at growing. You may wish you were harder, tougher, but it’s your softness that teaches you about love and humanity, and helps you to grow.