Warning: Exercising the mind may cause pain and discomfort in the neck and butt.

Many of you have reached out to me in email with concerns over how difficult my weekly topics have been.  First, to those of you who have emailed me stating that you’ve tried to do the exercises but it’s just not possible for you right now, that is perfectly okay!  I never wanted this challenge to be something that would have such negative effects on its participants.  I realize that what I’m asking you to consider, ponder, and think about doing each week can, for some, take months – even years to complete.  This challenge was meant to be an invitation to realize your worth.  Nothing more.  Nothing less. 

I have also been reading opinions that I proposed an unfair question:  Spend at least 10 minutes going about your life believing that you are perfect exactly as you are right at this moment.

Never did I mean perfect in the sense of ‘complete and utter perfection.’  Obviously, no one is perfect, nor should we strive to be perfect in that sense. Perhaps I should have made that clearer in last Monday’s topic list post.  If the word perfect confused any of you, please accept my apologies. 

I made a comment on someone’s blog that I’d like to repost below. It clarifies what my intentions of last week’s exercise were: 

I think that we all struggle with the inner turmoil we experience when we’re asked to take some time and accept ourselves as perfect the way we are. We automatically think, ‘but I’m NOT perfect; this is NOT where I want to be, so how can I truthfully think/say it?’ What it’s really all about it just knowing that in this MOMENT, there is no other place to be. ‘Here’ is all we have, and if we keep making ‘here’ a miserable place to be by wishing it were other things, then we’re really missing out…
If you ever decide to do the exercise again, maybe think of it that way; realize that ‘here’ is your perfect place to be.

I also received several emails from women who simply couldn’t accomplish the exercise due to certain mental blocks.  They were becoming frustrated with themselves and I completely understand why that would be.  I am asking you to challenge your thoughts, your beliefs, your habits and then confront them (as much or as little as you can, of course) in a matter of days so that you can write about your experience.  If you are having mental blocks with these exercises, don’t feel like you’ve failed just because you cannot complete the task; remember: it took me years and years before I was ready to confront my days of being bullied as a child.  It didn’t happen overnight, so allow yourself the time you need to work through your pain – however long that may be.   And, if this challenge is just not working out for you right now, I suggest a proposal:  commit to using your positive affirmation sheet.  You can only gain from repeating kind words to yourself long after this challenge is over, so I hope you will keep that up; that, and follow along with the others’ updates.  We all have a lot to learn from the women who have been really pushing themselves to get to the heart of certain issues and they could use our support and attention.   Plus, it’s quite possible that you may read something that will give you the clarity you need to begin your emotional work.

 

Finally, just a few words to remember:  Expecting to go from low self-esteem to embracing acceptance and respect for ourselves in a matter of days or a few weeks is unrealistic.    If we haven’t yet learned to walk, how can we be expected to run and cross the finish line of a race?  Change does not come overnight, so look at these exercises the same way you look at your exercise program: when you decided that you wanted to begin running, did you start with a 3 mile sprint?  No.   You walked; and every day, you walked a bit farther until you had enough strength to start running in small intervals.  When you started kettlebells, or decided to commit to Insanity or Bootcamp, was it easy?  I bet not.  You knew that you were going to have to push your body in order to see the changes you wanted.  Eventually though, the pain you experienced became less frequent because you were gaining strength in return.  This Challenge may be a bit different because the types of exercises we’re doing are different, but the outcome is still the same:  if you want to see change, at some point you’ll need to do the work. 

Keep those emails coming in.  I am always open to your thoughts and feelings on this Challenge and respect your opinions. 

See you back here tomorrow for group therapy.  Have a great Wednesday, everyone.

~Ellen

14 thoughts on “Warning: Exercising the mind may cause pain and discomfort in the neck and butt.

  1. Munchberry

    I have had to rejigger some things – mostly in my thinking and not getting stuck on any particular thing I want to nitpick to death in order to not really work on what is really at hand. I think your helping to clear the way is a gift to the kind and wonderful folks participating.

    Reply
  2. Laura @ LauraLivesLife

    Sometimes I think our resistance to things is the key to how much we actually need them! I’ve been thrown by this week’s comfort zone challenge but I realize how much I needed it when I literally couldn’t work my mind around WHAT I would do!

    If it was easy, then we’d already be doing it.

    Reply
  3. Hanlie

    I think this would have been much harder for me if I hadn’t done so much of the work already. It just perfectly fit in with where I am right now. A year ago might have been much harder for me. Still, the value I’m getting from this challenge is extraordinary.

    I’m going to be a day or two late with my Week 3 post – my comfort zone project is taking longer than anticipated, but I’m very pleased with it!

    Reply
  4. KCLAnderson (Karen)

    It’s funny…have you ever read The Four Agreements? Well, there’s a new, 5th agreement and it basically asks us to consider the idea that maybe “imperfection” is a myth and an excuse and that perhaps we are all perfect as we are.

    You are doing amazing things here Ellen…things that are so important and yet so uncomfortable. In some ways, I bet what you are trying to do challenges some people on a spiritual/religious level. And that’s a whole ‘nother issue right there. Who are we to elevate ourselves into a realm that seems a bit too lofty?

    I consider myself well down the road to to true self-esteem and acceptance and I am still finding your challenge to be…well…challenging! BRAVA!

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Perfection is truly in the eye of the beholder. Fully embracing imperfection is a perfection in of itself, right?
      Thank you for the uplifting words, Karen. As always, sending giant hugs to you today.

      Reply
  5. Nanette

    Hey! Okay, so I’m always reading your blog and sorta mentally working through the questions you ask… I don’t consider myself having low self-esteem. Though I had a lot of issues with that in recent years.

    The concept of perfection is so interesting to me. Perfection means that there’s only one right way to be. There are so MANY different ways to be. Every one of my friends is wonderful they way they are. So am I.

    I’ve discussed this with my friend Trent. Loving someone is seeing the “faults” and loving them anyway. Someone includes self… So in my self talk, I try to veer from the word “fault” and call them quirks. We are all like characters in books. We are all interesting and different and working against opposing forces (internally or externally)… and that’s a beautiful thing.

    Let’s find our next conflict. Let’s work through it and emerge with a new and refreshed perspective.

    Reply
  6. Paula

    I have to tell you that this challenge has done wonders for me. I can’t not explain how good I feel that I am not alone on many of these issues. Which makes me realize that not all things that have happened to me in the past are “my fault”. I’ve been using my positive affirmation sheet each day and looking forward, seeing the positive rather than the negative and I have been feeling so much happier. This challenge has done wonders for me and as for the daily affirmation? I plan to keep it up well past the end of the month.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Thank you, Paula. That means a great deal. It has helped me a lot as well, but a lot of that is because of having the support of other women to lean on; there really is strength in numbers. You’ve been a wonderful asset to the work being achieved here this month. XOXO

      Reply
  7. vickie

    I am not sure if this will seem to match your post today or if it will seem as if it is coming from left field, but it is where my mind went when I read your post.

    I have discovered, for myself in my process, that the inner has to match the outer. Not in perfection/beauty but in equality of thought and action. I can’t just think – I have to do. I can’t just do – I have to think/believe. This has been an important part of my process.

    AND, I slipped into my first maintenance level fairly easily. Two years at that level was very good practice. But then I had problems with the inner matching the outer. It was the summer of my discontentment with my belly fat. I had to take action to make everything balance out again (thought and deed). When I got to my second maintenance level (stripped off those last 20 lbs of protective fat) honestly, I had a tough time. A lot of that had to do with boundaries. It took me almost a year (of mental work after 6 mos of action work to get off the fat) to settle into that level with the inside matching the outside.

    It is very much a process.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      This is a perfect point, Vickie – totally spot on, really. If you aren’t ready to do the work wholeheartedly, there will always be a block of some sort, and the flow will be off. That has happened to me – almost like mini road blocks in the way (and it’s hard enough as it is, already!) Thank you for commenting with this. It helps put things into greater perspective.

      Reply
  8. Jane at Keeping the Pounds off

    Ellen, this is my first challenge and I am enjoying checking in and being in the company of so many amazing women willing to share their experience with the same feelings I have every day. I thank you for leading it and being so open and gracious in your comments each week.

    I only wish there was more time between the posting of the week and the day of the group therapy. Three days to do everything is rushing it and would take away from the benefits of the challenge for me. I am not ready to post for this week because I need time to do actually do the activities before I can write about the experience. I hope to be able to have it up by Friday.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Jane, you are right. Even for me, it is a rushed effort to have time to both figure out what to do and then go through the act of doing it. This week may be an exception only because I find that mulling over the process of doing something that I don’t want to do anyway, usually contributes to me chickening out. However, next year when I host this challenge, I will most definitely take your thoughts into consideration. Thank you very much for the feedback.

      Reply
  9. teresa

    I really got stuck on the concept of perfection. As I replied to a comment on my post, I “got” it in a different way. The problem was in my assumption about perfection, what *I* made it in to. My commentor said, “being myself, truly and authentically, is the closest I will ever come to being “perfect”.” And that is really what IS my definition of perfection. I just need to “hold” it. Being MySelf, Truly and Authentically. Period. Perfection.
    *That* is easy. ….ish.

    Reply

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