Author Jen Hatmaker: It is difficult for human beings to accept unearned mercy. It flies in the face of our merit-based system. We want to earn our goodwill; therefore, we want others to earn theirs. But grace is an inside job first.

How do you describe yourself? How do others describe you? Growing up, I was the “athletic” one and my brother was the “smart” one even though we both were succesful student-athletes. Safety comes when we are put into a box. For me, it was safe being the labeled the athletic one, the funny one, the doer. If someone asks you what your best qualities are and you absolutely have to answer, what would you say? Once, I was asked what trait made me such a good athlete. Rather than say my good genes (which could be true) I answered “My competitiveness”. I think it’s a great quality/trait to have if you are trying to be your very best at something, whether it be sports, music, academics, etcetera. If you want to be very good at something, it can be a great motivator to be challenged by those around you. I also think that a good trait can have a dark side. I think that being highly competitive can be destructive in an interpersonal relationship and it does no good to be competitive in non-competitive situations. It can even be harmful.

I think our qualities and traits lead people to treat us in a way that coincides with how we perceive ourselves, This can also be good or bad. My competitive nature aligns with the fact that I think of myself as a “doer”…a problem-solver. I like to just get things done and I have a tendency, in our house for example, to just do something rather than have someone else do it. It seems like that can be a positive trait and I bet my kids love that I “just do” the laundry 99.9% of the time rather than have them do it. I have had each boy do a load or two, but it really is easier for me to just do it myself. I do this a lot in my every day life, as well, and I bet you do, too. Amiright?
As a competitive person and a doer, I view myself as very capable and I can do many things without needing much help. I get a lot of satisfaction out of surprising Charlie when I, for instance, move a couch into another room by myself. “How did you do that?” and I proudly answer with my shoulders back, “I’m a problem solver. I just did it.” The problem is when I actually do need help, I don’t ask or if I do finally ask, I hate myself for asking. It is one of my most destructive traits and it takes constant practice for me to not only ask for help but to stop the negative self talk if I do need help. If you are “accomplished”, “capable”, “a doer”, the “funny one”, how do you step outside of the box and ask for the guidance you need?
I have always considered myself a happy person, but there was a time where I lived in a deep depression. It was a terrible time in my life. It affected the smallest of random meetings, acquaintances, close friendships and of course, my family. When you give yourself a tight box to fit in, “I’m a happy person. I get things done. I don’t need help”, you find it hard to reach outside that comfort zone. I was so sad and I desperately needed help but I didn’t want to ask. So for awhile, I didn’t ask and I didn’t get help. I became upset with the people who weren’t helping me. I was so angry in my time of need and I couldn’t get anyone to reach out a hand to me. The problem is, in part, because I had spent so much time being the happy, capable one and “that girl” didn’t need help. She certainly didn’t need unsolicited help ~ sarcasm. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
I finally did ask for help and it’s been a long road of “recovering” from being the girl who can do it all and doesn’t need anyone. I had to “forgive” myself for asking for help and I had to forgive the people that I felt abandoned me when I needed them the most. I absolutely cannot do it all and I absolutely do need help when I have a problem, when I’m upset or when I just don’t think I can do it on my own. I remind the people I coach and my own sons that even Michael Phelps and Tiger Woods have coaches. It sounds so simple and makes so much sense to have someone in your corner who has more knowledge and expertise than you and you can go to this person when you need help, support or guidance.
What does all this have to do with Crossfit? It may seem like nothing but it’s actually everything. My squad (in and out of the box) and I spend a good amount of time helping each other travel this crazy, messy, challenging road that is life. Sometimes the conversations are shallow and sometimes they are deep. However, each moment we spend listening to each other helps. We help each other when we are happy, sad, confused or sweaty! (Sometimes all those at once!) 😉 We are surrounded by knowledgable coaches who want us each to do our best while we are in the box. I have no problem being guided to “keep my eyes up” or to “get my booty all the way down” on my squats. In fact, I love to be coached. Why not let yourself be coached to help your brain, emotions, and feelings, too? When I was an athlete, I really enjoyed seeing a sports psychologist. As I’ve aged, I have learned so much by seeking support from mental health specialists as I’ve traveled this journey. It’s a good reminder for me to support my friends, to ask for help when I need it and to be open to guidance even though I like to think that I’m so strong I can do it all on my own. I can’t and I will keep trying to happily remember that. I don’t need to fit into a box that someone defines for me and I REALLY don’t need to limit myself with that box, either.
This is a great article about how we label ourselves. (Strange coincidence: I read this article after I drafted my own thoughts and feelings and lo and behold…it was published that day). The universe works in mysterious ways. 😉
As always, feel free to touch base with me here, on social media or even in person if you have any questions or comments about the blog. I’m so thankful that we can “meet” here and have a little chat. 😉
PS. Yesterday, well known entrepreneur, Kate Spade, committed suicide. If you ever feel as if you need to talk to someone, you can call the Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741 if you’re not comfortable chatting with a stranger. If you don’t love yourself right now, that’s okay. Let someone else show you that love and compassion.