“Oh yeah, I gave up sweets 3 months ago and I’ve never felt better! It’s pretty easy if you just put your mind to it. I just told myself I was done and once I make a decision I stick with it. Now cookie dough doesn’t even look appealing to me anymore.” I considered replying to my svelte friend that it doesn’t work that way for me, that telling myself I’m never eating something again throws my mind into rebellion mode faster than you can say “Ben & Jerry’s actually has a new flavor named Schweddy Balls?!” – but I was too busy thinking about how awesome cookie dough sounded and then starting a shame spiral because she could go her whole life without ever having it again and I wanted it just from hearing someone say the word. In speaking with a friend I love, I made myself less than.
“I knew it was crazy signing up for this half marathon without training first but I figured I could pull it off and I finished under 2 hours!!” As I read my blog-friend’s amazing race report, I massaged my shins that were so sore I had to walk up stairs backwards so I didn’t limp because I’d run 2 miles that morning without warming up. “How can she run 13 miles without even training and beat my best time when I can’t even do an easy run without prepping for days?” I moaned. In reading a blog I love, I made myself less than.
“Oh the wainscoting was just a little finishing touch I threw on at the last minute to really give this room that special ‘je ne se quois’, you know?” As I admired my friend’s perfectly appointed living room with just the right amount of flair and homeyness balanced with little pops of color exactly how all the style magazines say you should but without looking like it was ripped from a magazine, I stewed over the fact that I have wanted for years to do something similar in my home and not only did she do it in two days but hers looked a million times better than anything I could have done and she described it in French! The only other language I speak when it comes to home improvement is %&#*-ese. In visiting a home I love, I made myself less than.
For being such a small word less is such an immense feeling.
A few days ago I got the chance to interview Tony Horton, founder of P90X and late-night infomercial Greek god, for Shape magazine’s site. As you may recall I loved P90X – it is in my top 10 of most effective workouts I’ve ever tried for an Experiment – and I am a total fangirl. So what was the first thing out of my mouth after he said hello? “Ohmygoodness I looove you! I’ve done P90X and Insanity and they are amazing!” You guys: Tony Horton did not invent Insanity. What kind of professional does that? I might as well have asked him if he had a Shamwow I could borrow. I melted into a puddle of embarrassment when he answered, “Well I would have done 2 cycles of P90X and skipped the Insanity but that’s just me.”
(When I recounted this episode to the Gym Buddies, Krista said, “How on earth could you confuse Tony Horton with the Insanity guy (Shaun T)?!” I pouted,”It’s an honest mistake, the programs are very similar.” She exclaimed, “They’re two different colors!” My confusion must have shown because she just shook her head and sighed, “How did you watch all those hours of video and not notice that Tony Horton’s a white guy and the Insanity dude is a black guy?”)
Despite the inauspicious beginning to the interview, it went really well. He is as funny in real life as he is on his videos and I had a great time peppering him with questions. First question I asked him was, “What is up with the corn-cob pull-ups?!? Can anyone actually do those?” He answered, “It’s supposed to be hard. It’s a challenge. P90X and P90X 2 are designed to force you to work on your weaknesses. If it’s easy then it’s not working.” True for fitness, yes, but true for life also. Tony Horton gave me an Oprah moment. A-ha XTREME!
As illustrated above, I have a terrible habit of comparing my weaknesses to everyone else’s strengths. (Weirdly it never works the other way – apparently I’m much kinder to other people than I am to myself.) The obvious problem is that I make myself feel bad. But the real problem is that when I waste time doing this I can’t enjoy the beauty of the incredible things that all of you do and do so well. The real problem is that when I’m so busy being jealous of you that I can’t learn from you. The real problem is that when I’m focusing on your strengths, I’m not working on my own weaknesses. And then I cry and wonder why I never get better at parenting or race running or, heaven help me, wainscoting. I miss out on so much of life when I make myself less than. And it is something I do to myself.
So how do I change the equation from me<you to me+you=something amazing? I think it starts with being consciously grateful for what I have – both materially and spiritually. I think it starts with looking for the good in others, all others. I think it starts with not bad-mouthing others because we’re both on the same side of the equation and if I take you down, then we all go down. And down is only fun at amusement parks. But I don’t know where this ends. Help me?
Do you compare your weaknesses to others’ strengths? How do you combat this mentality? Anyone else confuse P90X and Insanity?!?