When I walk out of the gym after completing a good workout, I feel like I’ve accomplished something significant not just for my day, but for my long-term wellness.
I’ve held off the urgencies of others and even of my own mind to take care of present and future me.
Weight lifting has added a new dimension to this dynamic.
The heavy physical lifts in the gym feel like practice for the heavy emotional lifts in life and work. By lifting, holding, and carrying heavy weights, I am building confidence that I can lift, hold, and carry whatever life throws at me. I can hold space for my own challenges and for my clients.
When I start my day by successfully completing lifts, I walk out feeling like I can conquer the world.
Lifting heavy is a confidence booster.
When I’ve won in the gym, everything flows.
Sounds great, right?
Here’s the downside of this Confidence Boost
What happens when I miss the mark?
External metrics can be a double-edged sword. Great when you meet them; sometimes debilitating when you don’t.
Live by the achievement, die by the failure.
Or something like that.
Sourcing confidence from external accomplishments can make life a roller coaster of highs and lows.
Even using the metric of progress can be misguided, because progress isn’t linear.
By applying the mindfulness principle of equanimity we can avoid the roller coaster ride of highs and lows.
The truth is, you don’t know in the moment whether something is progress or failure.
For example: in 20 years of engaging in the sport of flying trapeze, I’ve had many moments where my flying seemed to fall apart just as I was reaching a new milestone. Often, that was a prelude to a big breakthrough.
I’ve experienced the same in the gym.
Sourcing our confidence only in our results fails to account for the many external factors that influence our results that we don’t control.
Is it fair to expect yourself to hit your goals in the gym when you’re recovering from illness or going through significant life stresses?
We tend to ignore how much of our accomplishments and achievements are due to things outside our control: being in the right place at the right time, having the support we need, the privileges we have, the weather, or just luck.
Rather than rooting confidence in the shifting sands of achievement, we should seek a more solid grounding — something that is fully in our control.
Confidence must be sourced from within.