Recently I have opened my remote coaching services and I have been active in a number of online forums for remote coaches. One of the things many of us coaches have noted is the self-loathing that many clients have. They simply will not stop with the self-hatred, self-loathing, self-shame bullshit. The comments are almost universally along the lines of, “I’m so out of shape” and “I’m so sad I’m like this.” To all of this, here’s my salty, nothing but the truth, old-school NCO response:
Dear fellow human being,
Of all people, I understand what you’re going through. I get that you’re embarrassed about your current physical state. It’s uncomfortable, sometimes soul-crushing to realize that in the grand scheme of things, you’re little more than a Tiger snack. I get it. I’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. However, if your goal is to continue to be nothing but Tiger snacks, keep it up, you’re doing great! You’ve got complaining and whining about things that are your fault down to an art form; and by focusing on what you can’t physically do today, you are guaranteeing that you’ll never be able to do it. You’d rather whine like a coward than stand up and do something. This is the kind of behavior a 4-year-old exhibits because they still think that if they cry enough, someone will come along and make everything better. Unfortunately for you, life doesn’t work like that.
Life on planet Earth doesn’t give a damn about you or your feelings of inadequacy. Life is a wolf, looking for the weak, the wounded, the slow and the infirm to cull them from the herd. Like the wolf, it doesn’t care. It clamps its jaws around your throat while you cry and simultaneously strangles you while bleeding you out. Why? Because screw you, you weak, pathetic drain on the rest of society. If you can’t keep up, the wolves get you every damn time. It’s their job. What are you going to do about it?
If there is one rule in life it’s that you have to fight for absolutely everything. Every inch of ground, every step you take, every achievement you seek is contested ground. You have to fight for it. That’s why it’s an achievement – because you had to overcome something or someone actively denying you the prize! Nobody is ever going to come to you with a silver platter just because you didn’t commit a crime or because you helped someone out one time. The only person who got you out of shape is you, and the only person who can get you back in shape is you.
As human beings, we have some really nasty, stupid, self-defeating habits. One is focusing on the things we can’t change. There are three categories of things in life: 1.) The things we can change 2.) The things we can influence 3.) The things we can’t influence or change. Far too often we do stupid things and then focus on the things we can’t change and can’t influence. Yeah, you let yourself go. You got fat and out of shape. Can you change the fact that it happened? No, it’s in the past. It’s done. So, forget about it! What exactly is going to happen if you bitch and moan and complain and feel sorry for yourself, wallowing in self-hatred at the point of tears about it? I wish I could say not a damn thing, but that’s not true. If you do that, you just get worse. And worse than that, you’re diverting the attention and brainpower away from the things you can influence and change RIGHT FUCKING NOW in favor of being a little whiny little bitch.
The question you need to ask yourself is this: What can I do today to improve things 0.5%? Well, you could do more physical activity today than you did yesterday. And then you could repeat that every day until it becomes a new habit. And then you could work on something else that is small and achievable in the here and now. And pretty soon those tiny little steps become much bigger steps. It turns out those stupid sayings like, “every long journey begins with a single step” aren’t so stupid after all. Of course, they do and instead of putting one foot in front of the other, you’re standing on the starting line looking for an excuse to quit, hoping someone will give you a pill to make it all better. Those are the traits of a coward, a quitter, a loser, and a liability. And in the end, life will sort you out as you go quietly into the night, not taken, but on your own volition.
I’ve spent years trying to solve the problem of motivation. Motivation is the pill people all want. They’re looking for that thing that will motivate them to do great things. It turns out, motivation isn’t what you think it is. The problem for modern society is that life is so good that we lack the daily threats to life that motivate us intrinsically to not die. That is the negative reinforcement side of motivation. On the other side is the aesthetic side of life, the picture of idealism we hold in our heads, that vision of perfection. What most of you suffer from is the idea that you suck and that you can’t have that because you suck. You’re waiting around for some sort of negative shock, a tiger to come around the corner to motivate you to do what is necessary. But by then, it’s too late. At best, this approach does nothing more than keep you from dying and that ain’t living! What I learned is that it’s self-discipline and self-accountability that produces intrinsic motivation. We have to face ourselves in the mirror every day and will ourselves to action. And as we gain competence, we gain motivation. For most, this is too frightening to even contemplate, this the self-loathing meltdowns…
Fortune favors the brave, the courageous, the intrepid! Courage is the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. It is the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous, to meet it with firm resolve. Life by definition is suffering and struggle and it takes daily courage to master it and overcome it. Fuck the fact that you’re out of shape and that it’s your fault. You want to be in better shape and have a better life? It’s time to get uncomfortable, time to embrace the suck, time to OWN your fuckups, time to shut the fuck up and do what you can in this moment, right here today, to take one time step forward!! I don’t want to HEAR about your self-loathing embarrassment. I want to SEE you take ONE tiny step forward. Then I want to see you do it again, and again, and again. I know you’re frustrated and you don’t know what to do. That’s why you hired me. It’s my job to tell you what steps to take. All you have to do is take them. That part I can’t do for you. You have to put forth the effort, one step at a time. You have to earn it. You have to fight your own fight. I can train you, coach you, talk to you, but life is the ring and the fight, and each of us must fight our own fight. I will fight mine. You must fight yours. And in the end, the better we become through this process of coaching and training, the more people we can both help to fight their fights.
Now get your nose out of the corner. Turn around. Face the opponent. Step out there and give as good as he gives, with a little more. Have some fucking pride in yourself for just standing there, toe to toe, smile in the face of adversity, laugh at the punches, take them and give them back a little harder. When you’re doing this every day with every aspect of life, then you’re living life to the fullest!
And when it comes to you and me, it’s not that you can’t and shouldn’t open up, vent, and share your concerns. You should and that’s necessary to the coaching process. But that’s different from the self-defeating whining about how sorry you feel about yourself and your current state. Not even a god can do anything about that. But you can do something to turn it around and I’m honored to stand by your side to show you how. Let me guide your steps, counsel and mentor you, and you do the work required for a better you. All I ask is that you bring you’re A-game and give me the best quality you can in your current state. I’ll make sure that state improves over time at a rate you can adapt to.
In closing, if you need something to fixate on, fixate on this: I’m telling you to get up, get your shit together, it’s time to train. NOW!
All the best,
Your Coach (who is being a hard ass and kind of a dick because you need that right now)