Monday, April 11, 2011
Darn These Life Lessons, Anyway
I've hurt my back. I would love to spin you a tale about rescuing a puppy off a rock face while climbing, and....
Not so much. I was rearranging the furniture in my bedroom. Oh, the glamour.
This kind of muscle strain happens when the abs aren't strong enough. Abs aren't strong enough because they aren't being challenged. They aren't being challenged because I don't work out enough. I don't work out enough because I almost always put someone else's needs ahead of mine. And I do THAT because my metaphorical core isn't strong enough.
It only looks like circular reasoning. My workout PLANS are good. My workout "actual" is ho-hum. Time after time, I put my plans on hold because someone needs me to do something else. Sometimes that needs to happen, granted. But my guess is that it doesn't need to happen quite as often as I let it happen.
One moment while I explain the back story. Psychology-types talk about organizing one's self-concept around a core identity. Bearing in mind that we all live with a lot of inconsistency in these matters, the core story can give meaning and purpose to that role and to all the others we adopt and live, or adopt and discard, across a lifetime.
Most of the time we hold incongruent identities in a workable tension. However, when two mutually exclusive stories each strive to be the core story, the tension can become unbearable. That's cognitive dissonance (in spite of how the term is used in popular parlance, that's what it actually means). People can put up with this situation for a really long time, but when it does become unbearable, it must be resolved or madness will surely ensue.
So, clearly, the idea is to get this taken care of early. Cognitive dissonance can, then, be a motivator for change. My self-concept as the helper is pretty darn important to me. My self-concept as an independent and physically strong person is, so far, mostly words. It doesn't approach the level of a core story, but it could get there. The thing is, the helper identity is actually truncating the independent strong person. If I don't become fully who I am because I stayed at work late to help you, then my failures are your fault. I have "an out" for not succeeding. Of COURSE, that's not true; my frontal brain knows that. My subconscious? I don't think so.
So, my sad stiff back is telling me that I am setting myself up for failure. I need to haul my sorry self to the gym and do some ab work -and all the other things I authentically like to do there. I need to stop pretending to be too busy.
I need to do this for myself, but I also need to do it in order to be in authentic relationships with my friends and colleagues. Because why would healthy strong people want to be in a relationship where this kind of scapegoating -however subconscious- is a possibility?
So, either I've reconciled the dissonance between two of my life stories and now really have to work on getting stronger, or this medicine is making me crazy. Besides, Faith the Vampire Slayer was a helper-girl, too. I just need to change what I'm aiming for in the helping department ;)