This is Part II of a 5 part series “5 Bogus Coaching Cliches (and better alternatives). Click here for Part I.
Cliche #2: Just Do It.
Sorry, Nike, it’s not that simple. This phrase is a fallacy on 2 levels:
First, it assumes that the solution to a daunting activity is to bulldoze through it. While, yes, it is possible to force yourself to take action, it’s not sustainable. Strong-arming requires an inordinate amount of resources and depletes your energy. It will only work for a small number of things, so it’s best to save that tactic for the most urgent necessities, such as: “I’m going to die stranded in the woods unless i force myself to eat this slug.”
Secondly, the term “just” becomes pejorative, implying that it’s only a matter of simple logic. If solely setting your mind to it doesn’t enable you act, then you must be some kind of wimp. The truth is, we all have different levels of resistance to different things. This resistance has nothing to do with logic. Ask my otherwise stalwart buddy to take a tiny sip of Gin – or even smell it- and he cringes, hand held up in refusal. This has nothing to do with logic, and everything to do with the way his brain clings to the memory of a debaucherous teenage drinking binge. Clearly he knows a sip of Gin won’t make him violently ill for two days, as it did before. But it doesn’t matter, his body and brain still resist as if it would, because there is a lingering association.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an alternative to hunkering down and pushing through resistance? Well, with tapping, we do.
Steps to dissolving unhelpful resistance:
1. What part of the activity are you most resisting? If you resist going to the gym, what’s the worst part of it? Getting out of a warm bed? Wearing tight clothes? Being watched by muscle heads? Not doing as much time/weight/reps as you think you ‘should’? If you have trouble coming up with one, visualize yourself going through the entire process, and check your body sensations or emotional state. At which point do you start to feel anxious or notice tightness and clenching somewhere in your body? Tap while focusing on the feeling in the situation. For example:
“I feel incompetent when I can’t lift 10 lbs”
“I feel objectified when gym rats look at me”
“I feel ugly in these spandex”
Use this as your reminder phrase, and visualize as much detail of the scene as possible: sights, sounds, smells, tactile sensations. Rate your intensity level from 0-10 before every round, and move onto the next emotion or feeling once the current one approaches zero. You may have many different emotions: fear, inadequacy, guilt, shame, sadness, anger… tap on each of these, one at a time.
2. What other time in your life did you feel similarly? Visualize yourself going through that event step by step, as if you’re watching a movie. Again, visualize as much detail of the scene as possible. When you feel your emotional intensity rise, pause and tap. Create a reminder phrase which combines what you feel and what is happening, for example:
“I felt like a failure when I couldn’t spell the word in the spelling bee”
“I was angry when my dad said I was a weakling after I asked for help”
“I was embarassed when my classmate shouted out that my jeans were too tight”
3. What results of this action make you uncomfortable? Even just a little bit. These may be small side-effects of the action, but may be sabotaging you. Imagine there was a salesperson trying to talk you out of doing this thing. What would he say? Remember, it doesn’t have to be logical.
“If I take time for myself, I’m not a good mother”
“If I get fit, my sister will hate me out of jealousy”
“The only time I feel comforted is when I stay in bed in the morning”
“If I get strong, I’ll have to do more things myself”
Use these phrases as your reminder phrase and tap while repeating them. This last one is a little tricky, but can be enormously powerful. Perhaps enlist a friend to help you think of things.
What are you resisting most?
I want to know, leave a comment below. If you try my suggestions above, tell me how it worked or didn’t work for you. C’mon, don’t delay, Just Do…..oh, nevermind.