I was at the gym (because that’s how all good stories start, right?) and smashing it. Thirty-six minutes into a sixty minute treadmill binge with the beats thumping and I’m feeling fucking good. Also, turns out that three pancakes laden with sugar and lemon are sufficient fuel for a good gym session #carbs
Anyway, unlike some individuals, I can’t work out without music. There’s just something about having those up-tempo, bass-saturated beats that inspire you to keep going, am I right? Listening to the gym playlist and I’m going strong until a song comes on that is a little slower than the others. Not very inspiring and I’m about to change the song when I have a thought; never let your circumstances define your attitude.
OK. Soul lessons at the gym. Well, there’s a first time for everything I guess.
Instead of faffing about trying to change the song which I thought would obviously give me some kind of super powers to continue working out sufficiently, I left it. Fuck it, because its not the music’s responsibility to keep me going – it’s mine.
It all sounds a bit deep for a gym session, I know, but hear me out: how many times in life do we allow our external circumstances define our attitude and actions? How many times does our internal world change with the ever-changing flux of the external? Are we really that fragile, like a little leaf blown about in the wind? Or, for the Katy Perry fans, like a plastic bag drifting through the wind? (Full weight of sarcasm intended.)
Now, don’t get me wrong, we’re not flawed for letting this happen – we’re human. And there are major times in life where our external circumstances will ultimately have an impact on our attitudes – when a family member is diagnosed with an illness, when we lose our job, when we’re under stress because of the pressures of raising a family of teenagers…
But there are the minor fluctuations that can just as easily throw us off course…like a shitty comment from a colleague in work, or a snide comment made by a “friend”, or simply just stubbing your fucking toe when you’re already late for work. Should we let these minor moments have an impact on ourselves for the rest of the day…or even if only for five minutes?
I’m a firm believer that in times of stress and worry, our true characters have time to show. I know what you’re thinking “God I am fucking terrible, in that case.” Yeah, me too. Honestly…I’m the ugliest motherfucker ever when I get angry or upset. More so in these past two years than at any other time in my life, owing to major external changes that have ultimately impacted how I present myself at the moment.
So, in these moments of difficulty, instead of fighting against them…why not just run with them and selfishly use them to our advantage? Going back to the gym session, I could’ve put the treadmill on pause, found a song, and carried on running. But, I’m not being funny, I was on a roll. I didn’t have time to stop and faff about with that shit…I’d been running non-stop and doing really fucking well and I wasn’t about to stop now. The same with life…we’re on a roll and then we get handed a curveball. Sometimes we just can’t stop; we gotta keep going.
Instead of letting our external circumstances define us, think about it…How would you like to approach the difficulty?
Whatever it is, choose to do it for yourself; to refine those parts of your character that you just know are ugly as fuck. Rise above the petty shit in full confidence that you are better than those moments. You’re stronger than that; you don’t have to allow it to push you off track. Don’t give that situation permission to fuck you over, ‘kay? If your usual response is anger and its getting you down, choose to approach it with understanding. So, if Kathy has just sent you a shitty email and your usual response would be to send one back – pause. Don’t let her define your attitude…stay true to who you want to be in that moment.
Yeah…it takes a lot of strength and self-restraint but, ultimately, you’re the one who will benefit. And, hey, maybe Kathy it just having a bad day and needs to be treated with kindness, anyway. You let your light shine, and it’ll inspire her to do the same. Kindness breeds kindness; contempt breeds contempt. It’s basically akin to ‘you reap what you sow.’
Sometimes you can’t change the circumstances but you can choose how you approach it. There is some serious power in that, as well as allowing yourself some space to grow…which is loving yourself to the maximum.
OK, perhaps saying never let your circumstances define your actions is a big ask but, hey, aim for the moon and you’ll hit a star, right? Trying is enough, sometimes. And, if you manage to do it flawlessly, give me some tips because I’m still learning, too…