I am my Own Worst Enemy

BarbellI am my own worst enemy, especially in the gym.

It’s Monday, snatch day. Another chance to immerse myself in my love/hate relationship with a movement that is at the same time both humbling and empowering.

The movement itself is so fast that it leaves no time for thought. When it’s done, there’s assessment.

That one felt good.

Something was off on that last one.

Once the bar hits the floor. I pace a minute or two, let my breathing settle, calm myself for my next attempt — and then it starts.

“That’s not very much weight, Dave.”


This voice is quiet, calm, condemning.

Shut the fuck up. Just let me lift, okay?

But it continues anyway.

Self doubt and self criticism are my most natural states. I’m not really sure how it started, whether it’s always been there or if I’m filling in for some other voice. In the end it doesn’t matter. It’s what I do now and it’s not doing me any favors.

The real origin comes from placing my sense of self worth in external evaluation. Am I fit enough/thin enough/strong enough to be loved?

Put like that it’s pretty pathetic, and there it goes again, self criticism, showing just how shitty I really am. The piece of shit around which the world revolves.

All of which helps nothing.

So much of what we do in the gym is mental. I’ve seen the power of belief and how it can lead to both unexpected gains and premature failure. I know how it works and perhaps that’s part of the problem. I can’t fool myself and apparently can’t forgive myself either.

I know it’s not just me. I see, over and over, how we as a culture are obsessed with the perceived happiness of others. We spend way too much money keeping up with the successes and failures of the celebrity of the minute, obsessing over appearance and love lives. So much so, that a savvy celebrity can maintain fame just by keeping the public titillated with artfully staged life events like weight gain and then loss or a cheating boyfriend.

And it enrages me no end that even though I’m aware of it, I still fall prey. No, I can see through the magazines and most of the media manipulations. I can see where someone else is trying to leverage my unhappiness or dissatisfaction in order to get me to buy a service or product. But to what end do I manipulate myself?

Why must I pick at the scabs of self doubt? Do I really expect that I’ll get more out of reminding myself how much better others are at what I’m trying to do? Where’s the joy in that?

When I was a kid and I’d angered my mother, stood my ground, right or wrong, for even just an instant, she’d say, “Just who do you think you are?”retro-mom-angry-280x280

I never had an answer for that.

But now I wonder, “Who are you? Who are you, that your opinion should matter so much? Who are you that my fear of what you might think saps the joy out of any achievement I might otherwise feel?”

Why do I care what you think?

To our perfect imperfection,


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