It’s My Fault

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My husband graciously carries his laundry basket to the washer, but I beg him to let me do the work because I like to clean. Yeah, that’s right. I like to do laundry. A pile of clothes reminds me we live life fully, and washing and organizing make me feel productive.

Later I hear the clink-clinking of the dryer, and I purse my lips.

“Did you leave a jump drive in your pocket again? How many times have I told you…”

“I’m sorry,” my husband says. “It’s my fault.”

He’s always quick to apologize. I take a breath and clench my teeth, reminded that leaving chapstick and quarters in the pockets of his Levi’s is just something he does. If they’re in my dryer it isn’t anyone’s fault but my own.

Admitting my failures, taking ownership of things in which others play a role, and apologizing doesn’t feel natural. It makes me rotate my shoulders as if to move the little pride monkey off my back. But accepting responsibility for small stuff keeps my emotions in check, which empowers me to adapt. I’d rather not waste time blaming others, and, in turn, stall productivity. Blaming others is one reason bullying wrecked my adolescence. I focused more on my bullies’ words and actions and less on my circumstances being temporary and controlling my reactions. Living in the moment is a habit I’ve carried into adulthood. It can be a gift and a crutch. If I get absorbed in the details of now and fail to see the bigger picture ahead, the results I desire, it’s easy for me to blame other people, like a training client who doesn’t follow instructions. Over the years, I’ve realized it’s less likely that she’s disrespectful and uncoachable and more likely that she’s a visual learner. It’s my responsibility to take her to the mirror or film her to show her the mistake and help her improve. Other times, taking ownership isn’t about getting someone to do what I want as much as it is about freeing myself of controlling others and seeking peace.

Have you listened to your words lately? Are your frustrations doing anyone good? If it’s always someone else’s fault, chances are it’s your fault. People expect criticism and reprimand, and maybe they deserve a kick in the rear, but when we first take responsibility, others are more likely to consider self-improvement. We can pass the buck, which might work to some extent, but, sooner or later, we’ll end up with quarters clink-clinking in our dryers, reminding us to check our own pockets.

“We have to own everything in our world. That’s what Extreme Ownership is all about.” -Jocko Willink

What is one small thing for which you can practice taking ownership?

Recommended reading: Extreme Ownership: How Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Who You See in the Mirror

 

 

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This is the mirror in my fitness training studio. I use it to instruct and improve peoples’ form. Eighty percent of training clients are women so you can imagine how that usually goes. Rarely do they look in the mirror and willingly comply. Almost always they grumble, “I hate looking at myself in the mirror,” and “I hate this mirror.” Some even refuse to look. They would rather risk injury than face the truth, adjust, and perform the movement correctly.

It goes deeper than lunges. I get it. When I look in the mirror, I can criticize myself with the best of you. Recently, I assured two people, on separate occasions, that I look hideous in patterned leggings. “Oh, you could wear anything!” they said. Um no. If only they saw what I had in that dressing room mirror. Eek.

We are our own worst critics, and we all have our reasons. Often, those ideas stem from insecurity, comparison, or something someone said. Like when I posted a before-and-after photo that documented my body fat loss. A woman dissed me for not being secure enough to accept myself as I was in my before picture and for having man arms in my after picture. It ticked me off at the moment. Before and after, I felt secure enough to share my results in hopes of encouraging others, but she didn’t know that and presented no desire to understand. Now, when I look in the mirror, I occasionally have to swat down the thought of “man arms” and I remind myself that at 5’2″ 125 pounds, I’m a far cry from a man. I’m exactly who God made me.

Actually, I like to look at myself in the mirror most of the time. It has much less to do with appearance and more to do with allowing myself to see myself created in the image of God. Working out is spiritual. Often, I lift reps I didn’t think I was capable of lifting, I run extra laps when I’d rather stop, I feel lighter and stronger, and I know exactly why. My strength, power, energy and focus come from the Lord, not from my own effort. When I accomplish hard work, I look into the mirror, and I see His glory. I see His Spirit dwelling within me. It’s why I like my arms and I will shamelessly flex my biceps. Proverbs 31:17 says, “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” I like my sweaty glow, my makeup-less, sometimes pale, pimply face because “those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame” (Psalm 34:5). I like who I see in the mirror because my reflection represents the Creator who molds me into my beautiful, confident, unique self.

We are all different, but we are all made in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:27). We should embrace that to the fullest. You can change who you see in the mirror when you start seeing God within you.

 

 

 

A Pre-Workout Prayer

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Because God sets all things into motion, it is only fitting we go to Him before we exercise. Incorporating prayer prior to, during, and after our workouts is a way to worship Him. If you don’t already pray before you workout, I hope this short prayer helps you to get to know God as your most powerful fuel and uplifting workout partner.

Take a deep belly breath before you begin.


Lord, as I prepare to exercise, I come to you first. You have given me life and the ability to move. Therefore, I will honor you with my mind and body. In this workout, I will not be overcome by my challenges. I will not focus on discouragement or fatigue. I am present in this moment. Center my thoughts on your strength. I invite your Holy Spirit to dwell within me. I breathe you in. Be my guide and my energy. Cushion my strides. Power my repetitions with intensity. Give me the guts to move with intention and complete more than I believe I’m capable. In you, all things are possible for me.

To God be the glory. Amen.


 

Stay tuned for more pre, during, and post-workout prayers. 🙂

Know Your Strengths

Bullying, by nature, is a negative subject. While the bad outcomes play a significant role in the overall discussion, we must give adequate attention to the fact that bullying can have positive effects too. Yes, it can break us, but it can also build us. Bullying made me stronger, and I am thankful I can share my strengths with you through my blog and book. I hope my blessings serve as a platform for you to discover and grow your God-given talents. Your strengths matter! Focusing on them provides you with purpose. When you understand your strengths, bullying and meanness simply don’t affect you the same way. Maybe you don’t yet believe you possess unique qualities. Maybe you aren’t quite sure what your strengths are. Or, perhaps you have an idea but could benefit from taking inventory and digging deeper. Let’s get crystal-clear on just how strong you are.

To help you do so, I recommend a few tools. Start with the Bible. It’s our number-one reminder of strength. Find reassurance by turning to “strength” in its index, and look up the verses. Another tool is Tom Rath’s StrengthsFinder 2.0. You will need to obtain a new copy, as it contains an individualized test code. This book brought me clarity and helped me focus on developing my strengths rather than my weaknesses.

My top five strengths according to StrengthsFinder 2.0 are spot-on. No one can take them away from me except me. Here they are:

1. Achiever

I have a fire burning inside of me and a constant need for achievement. Every single day, I must achieve something tangible whether it’s checking off items from my chore lists or making time to exercise.

2. Belief

This theme supports my core values and gives my life meaning. It provides me direction and allows me to set priorities. It’s what leads me to be consistent and dependable.

3. Adaptability 

While I do not like sudden requests or unforeseen detours, I expect them. I tend to live in the moment. I do not see the future as a fixed destination, but I understand how the choices I make right now effect the future. Therefore, I’m flexible.

4. Responsibility 

I take psychological ownership for my commitments and feel emotionally bound to follow through to completion.

5. Relator 

Relationships are my most frustrating challenge yet one of my greatest desires. Despite the times I’ve found difficulty in relating to others, turns out, I’m good at it. It’s important that I invest time and energy into developing my relationships. I’m comfortable with intimacy and understand that kind of closeness implies risk—the risk that my relationships will fail like the friendships of my adolescence. However, I am willing to accept the risk to gain genuine relationships. I am usually pulled toward people I already know, although I do not shy away from meeting new people.

Altogether, these five strengths describe me fittingly. Of course, there is much more to me, but these themes help provide insight into what makes me tick. When I understand myself better, I can serve others better, and so can you.

Now that you know more about me, what are your strengths? If you aren’t sure, spend time considering what you like about yourself, what you’re good at, and what activities you enjoy. After you’ve discovered your strengths, or if you know your StrengthsFinders top five, share them here. Let’s get to know each other and use our blessings as unified power.