July 13th, 2023

Be hard on yourself

Finding delight in goal oriented physical exercise may seem strange to some. Physically, you inflict brief pain on yourself and put yourself under temporary strain. Emotionally, you temporarily put all your focus in one or a few simple tasks, attempting to block every other distracting thought in your head. In some cases, you also expose yourself to social pressure as well. Afterwards, you rest, and after that you repeat the same cycle again, perhaps in a bit different way this time. Gradually, you will become more durable and stronger.

This of course combats against the natural instincts of being human, for one of the traits we are born with is laziness. For some, the fight against laziness is longer and harder than for the others. There are also people who never attempt to fight it, but just give in to laziness. Of course, physical exercise is only one third of the trinity that makes us. Taking care of yourself is of great importance, no matter whether it means training your physique, mental capacity, or your social skills.

Today, I stumbled upon this article by The Economist from two years back. While I agree that not everybody has to strive for anything more than an average (or ordinary, as it is called in the article) life, there is nothing wrong with trying to reach for bigger goals either. To live an average life, you just need to learn to survive in the world, and learn what it is that makes you happy. It is my belief, however, that the discussions about perfectionism stem from the fact that many people truly want to be better than others. To become better than others, you cannot settle for an average life, and accepting that is much harder.

Say you want to become better at picking up atlas stones. Inevitably, you will stand face to face with a stone so heavy you cannot lift it. To be able to lift it, you will have to master lifting lighter stones first, and undergo countless hours of physical exercise. Each time you reach a new personal record, there is a new goal ahead of you in the form of a bigger stone. And every time it will get harder than the previous goal was.

To achieve goals like that, you need to forego the mentality of "not being too hard on yourself". The fact is, to achieve that next step, you need to be hard on yourself, and for quite some time, too. The harder your are on yourself, the better you will be able to reach your goals.

This same rule applies to all the goals you may have, whether they be physical, emotional, or social. If being ordinary is what you are striving for, then you most likely will not need to undergo so much pain and hardships. If it is not, well... better to learn to love the pain. Just remember: no matter what your goals may be, identify and acknowledge them, and never stop fighting for them.