WHY CAN'T I?

Hey friends and family!

Hope you are getting into the Spring of things ;) with this warm weather! (It's not raining! Love the rain but also the sun!) 

I have been reflecting on a few life changes I have made recently and noticing how I talk myself out of doing them, even as I am committing to doing them. It's a really interesting process to retrain your brain towards the person you want to be. 

A few things I'm going to share in this are:
- my step by step thought process as I am working out
- reflection on that process (understanding why doubtful thoughts crop up for me)
- my strategies for working through those thoughts to be the person I wish to be

I've suggested songs for listening while reading in the past and felt inspired to send one with this email. The song that came to mind for this writing is Redemption Song by Bob Marley focusing on the line "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.." Here is a link if you'd like to listen before, after or while reading: "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley.

I look forward to furthering these conversations. Please feel free to respond after reading if you are working through some similar personal shifts or just want to say heeeeeyyyy!
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The two things I have been committing to recently are:
1. Working out/ going to the gym every morning
2. Writing down my expenses each day

These two seemingly simple things I have been wanting to do for a long time, but had not made the change until now. The reasons behind these two changes I've made recently are:
1. I've been wanting to workout everyday just to see what my body feels like/ looks like if I go the the gym everyday. I won't look like other people but I want to know what that looks like and feels like for me. 
2. I have thought in the past that it was possible to keep mental track of how much I was spending. I'm now convinced that it is 100% impossible to keep mental track of how much I am spending. haha. I've tried to convince myself that I can do this many times but in writing down my expenses each day recently, I've realized it's absolutely not true. There are always little things that I spend money on that I almost don't even realize I am spending money on. Like picking up a water bottle- cause we all need to drink water!) or whatever your favorite drink is cause you deserve it after working so hard, or stopping by the gas station to get gas, or paying for a transfer on public transit, or signing up for Skillshare on a $.99 cents for the first 2 months deal.. etc. haha There are so many moments where money seems to just slip away and especially with all the stuff going on today, it feels easy to get distracted from how much I am actually spending.

(I will take more about the impact that tracking my expenses and income has had but in this email, I'm going to focus mostly on what I've noticed about working out). 

By making a commitment to going to the gym every morning- no questions asked, I've come to realize that many times I find myself doubting my ability to complete a workout. My thought process goes like this:
1. Say hello to Pam at the front desk, have a great conversation with her, and find a machine to begin my cardio movements (I look for the funnest machine available cause why not? :)
2. Jump on the machine, push "Quick Start" and ramp up the resistance and incline. My idea behind this is that if I start hard, I can reduce it instead of getting used to the easier settings and feeling like I should ramp it up.
3. 10 mins in, I'm thinking, Phew- this is great! Look at all these beautiful people of all different shapes and sizes just getting our move on early in the morning. I'm stoked to be part of this crew!
4. 15 mins in: Whoa, this is getting kinda hard...
(AND 5. this is the big one)
5. "I can't do this." 
I've noticed myself just slip into this thought, and it feels so natural. I have this moment of "Oh no, I don't think I'm probably not going to be able to complete this workout at this intensity or maybe not at all."

I've come to notice when I have this thought. I've noticed that it happens EVERY MORNING. It's really interesting how consistently it kicks in, and it brings with it all these emotions: Maybe I just can't workout every morning? Maybe I just can't do this? Maybe I can't change or develop in ways that I want to? Maybe I'm trying something that is impossible for me? Maybe I'm wasting my time and money on paying to have a gym membership when in reality there's no way I could actually maintain this?

All these emotions happen in about a 5 second period. As I've come to notice them happening, I recognize when they start and instead of running from them or trying to push them away, I think, "Okay. Let me list in my head while I'm here on this machine, all the reasons I can't do this." This is how my thoughts process proceeds:

1. Recognize moment of, "AHHHHHHHHHHH I can't do this!" --> Cue emotional swampland. 
2. Breathe. Then I list in my head while still moving on the elliptical all the reasons I can come up with for why I can't do this.
3. I then ask myself, "Why can't I do this?" This usually leads my thoughts from the concrete (I might not be physically strong enough) to all the reasons why I am afraid that I won't be able to do it.
4. Then I ask myself, "What do I wish I could do?" Do I wish I could finish a 30 min cardio workout at this intensity? Do I wish I could go to the gym everyday? Do I wish I feel confident, strong and capable in my body after working out in the morning?
5. After taking a moment to recognize my fears and acknowledge the things I wish I could do, it makes it clear that in order to do the things I want to do in life, I have to finish this 30 min workout at this level of intensity.

This thought process is what gets me through my workouts EVERYDAY. I literally go through this EVERYDAY when I workout. (It is a workout. Couldn't resist! ;)

It has been fascinating for me to notice this thought process, in particular to notice how consistent it is despite me wanting it to be different/ working to change it. I believe this is what  a mindset shift is about. Instead of turning off the feelings I have, I embrace them and determine if they are in line with my wishes for myself. If my wish is to be able to complete this 30 mins workout, then my auto response of "I can't do this." really isn't helping haha. Instead, I have to help it by walking through the thoughts of, this is WHY I WANT TO DO THIS, which makes it so much easier to do. I also get an extra pump of energy which I am better able to sustain in the second half of my workout after walking myself through this thought process.

Noticing my thoughts as I am continuing to do my workout I feel is an important part of this development. I can think, this is hard, I can't do this, I'm going to fail, so on and so on... but:
Just because you are thinking it, doesn't mean you can't keep doing it
After finishing my workout, then I've proven myself wrong. I've proven that I can do. I'm realizing that the automatic thoughts of resistance and self defeat that come up half way through my workout are all the same thoughts I had before I decided to get a gym membership. They are now showing up later in the process. Instead of preventing from getting a gym membership and going to the gym each morning, they are showing up half way through my workout. Recognizing that I have already moved through these insecurities to get to where I am, encourages me to keep moving through them in my exercising. They may show up in other places as I continue develop but they aren't going to stop me from getting in my 30 mins of cardio :) whoot! 

I'm looking forward to having a community discussion in my workshop this Saturday, May 26th on how we each overcome mental defeat, and resources/ tools we use to work through this process. I'm excited to share and create community around our working through these personal developments. The process of making art, I find, can bring up similar trains of thought for myself and others which makes it a great medium for these bold, brave and liberating conversations.

I Want To Be Part Of The Conversation on Saturday!
A quote I used to meditate on when I was running was, "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.." by Bob Marley. I've noticed, there are so many moments where I am enslaved to my thoughts, as though I am actually not capable of what I want to be capable of. Working out and creating art are powerful ways I've found to challenge believes I hold of myself and exercise.. ;) mental freedom. While not the only way, I believe working through these personal developments can make ripples in my capabilities to impact change on a larger scale. How can I expect to liberate others if I am not also engaged in liberating myself?

Sending love and liberation your way in your personal and creative pursuits. 
Love,
Vessna

Vessna Scheff