I was lifting weights, and before I had even finished my warmup, I quit.
I wasn’t in pain and there was no logical reason for me to stop, but I did. I had just taken a few extra recovery days the week before so the problem wasn’t overtraining. I had slept well and eaten healthy the day of the workout, but for some reason I quit.
There appears to be some mechanism in our brains that’s geared toward survival and when I had the thought that maybe lifting weights wasn’t 100% necessary my body decided to conserve energy and give up on me. I allowed my body to control me as if I was an animal so, I had the idea to treat myself like one.
During my next workout I decided that not only was I going to finish my whole workout, but as punishment for giving up on myself I was also going to add 5 pounds to each lift. I decided that no matter what happened, I wasn’t going to leave until I got through my whole workout. And it worked. I completed each lift, and strangely enough the weights actually felt lighter than before.
I can’t tell you why the weights felt lighter, but I can tell you that increasing the amount I had to lift worked. Maybe it’s because I was more inspired by the higher goal and my body produced more adrenaline than it typically does. Maybe my body thought I would increase the amount of weight it would have to lift if it failed. I don’t know, and while I’m still not sure this is the best long term strategy to be using in the gym, I’ve been able to apply it to others aspects of my life quite successfully.
Let’s use socialization as an example. As a child I had low self esteem and was very introverted, but as I’ve developed as a person I’ve gradually became more extroverted. I still spend the majority of my time alone, but it’s now a conscious choice I make as a result of my hobbies rather than it being my only option.
Recently, however, I’ve noticed myself becoming a bit too introverted for my liking, so I’ve begun making a conscious effort to socialize more. Sometimes that may mean introducing myself to a random stranger, while other times it may mean attending a social event or reconnecting with someone I’ve lost touch with.
This process has been going pretty smoothly for the most part, however, there have been times where I know I should have introduced myself to someone or went to some event I had been invited to but didn’t. In those cases, I force myself to do more of whatever I had just avoided.
Cameron did you just skip introducing yourself to that girl? Bad decision. Now you’re going to have to introduce yourself to three more by the end of the day. Did you just tell them you were busy and couldn’t build a snowman later? Bad decision. Now you have to find two more social events to attend this weekend.
Of course, I could punish myself the way most people do, perhaps going for a run, or studying a foreign language every time I allowed my brain to rationalize its way out of things, but that wouldn’t be nearly as effective.
It may help me get in better shape, or improve my Spanish, but because my brain doesn’t fear either of those activities like it sometimes fears socialization, it would ultimately prove to be futile because my brain would rationalize running and studying every single time and I wouldn’t ever face my fear.
I could see how it could perhaps work the other way, however, forcing yourself to so something you fear more than the activity you just rationalized your way out of, but for now I’m keeping my system as simple as possible and simply substituting more of whatever I just attempted to avoid.
In addition to substituting more of an activity, you can also substitute a more intense version of an avoided activity. That’s what I did when increased the amount of weight I had to lift. It’s an interesting alternative to simply increasing your amount of a specific activity and it’s something I intend to experiment with in the coming weeks.
Continuing with the socialization example, let’s say you suffer from social anxiety and you tell yourself that you’re going to go to the mall with friends and just say hi to one stranger. An hour passes, but you still haven’t said hi to anyone. Well, then you can up the ante a bit.
Perhaps you then force yourself to not only say hi to someone, but hold a conversation with them as well. And the great thing about doing this with friends, is that you can tell them beforehand to hold you accountable. Tell them that if you don’t say hi to at least one stranger within an hour then they can do whatever they want to embarrass you.
You’ll have a lot more motivation when they start walking up to random chicks and telli them that you have a crush on them, or they try to pants you, or whatever your friends may try to do that you find embarrassing.
I call this whole process of punishing yourself for not doing something you know you should do doubling down. I find it’s a very effective way of consciously programming my mind to thrive instead of merely survive, and in the few short weeks I’ve been using this process it’s already shown great promise.
Doubling down can be utilized in any area of your life, so if you find yourself constantly procrastinating or making excuses in one area of your life try it, and let me know in the the comments how it’s worked out for you.
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