May 05, 2014

Goal Support Post: Go Inside!

photo: ca_heckler

By Crabby McSlacker

Nah, I'm not talking about "going inside" as opposed to "going outdoors."

And I'm certainly not advocating that you get even more virtuous shit done within the confines of your homes or offices or gyms.

Or combinations thereof...


In fact, this time of year, outside is probably the place to be! Well, at least if your weather conditions and allergies and schedules permit.  So this is more about going psychologically "inside" versus "outside," at least in terms of how you frame goals or experience your life.

This is also one of those periodic Goal Support posts, where the lovely people who stop by here are sometimes kind enough to check in with what they're up to lately, as well as to offer encouragement to others by replying to comments.

Anyway, here are a couple weird thoughts on the whys and hows of "going inside"... in Q & A format 'cause why the heck not? Let's pretend that someone actually stayed awake long enough to ask a few Q's for me to A.

Wait, Crabby, "Going Inside With Your Goals?" WTF Are You Talking About?

I just mean focusing on the subjective world that exists in your brain, rather than worrying so much about more tangible achievements, benchmarks, other people's opinions, or other external indicators that you're doing well or sucking at what's important to you.

The goal is to be happy, energetic, engaged, fulfilled, blissful, and carefree regardless of whatever crap you are succeeding at or not succeeding at according to the arbitrary outside world. This doesn't mean not challenging yourself--it just means doing so in different way.

Well That's Pretty F--king Vague, How About a Few Examples?

Sure!

Instead of: "I will lose 5 lbs this month" you could reframe as: "I will experiment with healthier food choices and will try to move more and see what I like and what I hate about it."

Instead of: "I will stop screaming bloody murder at my kids even when they behave like crazed orangutans on methamphetamines," try, "I will try to notice more when I am getting stressed and cranky, and pay attention to what I'm saying to myself that might be making it worse."

Instead of: "I will start exercising 5 days a week instead of 2 like I've been promising myself for the last decade," you could aim for: "I will figure out when I have actually enjoyed exercising, and do something concrete to create more of that good stuff and see if I feel less inclined to want to shoot myself."

Instead of: "I will get every damn thing on my to-do list done today if it kills me," aim for something more like: "I will try to bring a little joy or playfulness to every chore I undertake today."

If you're pretty bossy with yourself and don't feel comfortable with mushy sounding targets like those, you could always externalize an internal practice. For example, you could aim to spend a half hour daily doing something like: meditating, yoga, brainstorming new career ideas, journaling about the ways you might be holding yourself back, adding to a gratitude list, or pondering whether you may have accidentally married a total asshole and what you might want to do about that.

What are Some Practical Advantages to "Going Inside?"

Stress Reduction!  Mental goals may sound wishy-washy and time-wastey, but improving your peace of mind and overall happiness can lead to concrete physical and financial rewards.

People who focus on mental processes and personal growth and not just external achievements tend to sleep better, avoid acute and chronic health problems, have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight, form more and better personal relationships, and ultimately get a lot more shit done than externally-focused stress-bunnies do.

Discovering and cleaning up self-defeating behavior:  Ever seen a friend or family member keep getting into the same dumb situations over and over? And you marvel at how they could be so clueless as to not see the ways they bring these disasters on themselves with their own twisted thoughts, feelings, and reactions?

Any chance YOU are sometimes that clueless nincompoop? Sometimes taking a step back and going "inside" can magically make the world stop picking on you.

Levitation!

Well, ya never know.

photo: wikipedia

What if I Don't Freakin' LIKE Going Inside Because It's Creepy or Boring or Really Messy in There?


photo: wikipedia

Okay, so that's a problem, and not an uncommon one.  Making your interior introspective space a peaceful refuge and not a haunted house of self-flagellation, fear, defeat, and chaos can, for some people, take a little work.

But even realizing that it has been a problem is a good first step, and I'll bet if you are not entirely comfortable being alone with your thoughts and feelings, some ideas for how to make that easier may already be occurring to you!

Or if not, I will probably bore you all more posts about going "inside" before too long.  I think I may be entering a phase of going mental again (in all senses of the word), and wanting to write more about some of that stuff.  I know there are other bloggers who able to gracefully sneak in a little of the psychological and philosophical into fitness writing, like over at Mind Fit Move or Happiness Is a Dish Best Savored Hot.  But can a neurotic crankpot like Crabby McSlacker possibly have anything useful to add?  We shall see.

Update: Just saw that Charlotte at The Great Fitness Experiment, who is always eloquent and hilarious when writing about psychological aspects of health, has a great post today about living in the now, be sure to check it out!

So how are you guys doing? Working on anything specific or just taking life as it comes? Any thoughts on "inside" stuff?

46 comments:

  1. I spend most of my time in my own head, to the point that hubs constantly has to bring me back to the now. However, I never really get anything productive done while I'm in there. I'm more of a mental hoarder, sitting in crowded rooms sifting through boxes of memories, so this post really caught my interest. I'll have to work on actually improving that area instead of just sitting in it. Good idea, Crabby!

    As for current events, I'm just taking life as it comes right now and trying to focus on the positive. For example, our garden looks amazing and that makes me happy. Everything else is just one day at a time for now. :-)

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    1. Boy, do I know that feeling. As an introverted only child, my default is living in my head!

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    2. Major introvert here, OtF! I was only three and a half when my little sister was born, but you'd have thought I was 40, that habit was so ingrained. Even after getting this far, I'm still most comfortable in my head. :-)

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    3. Crabby McSlackerMay 5, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      More "head" people, yay! Not surprising given the thoughtfulness and introspection you guys always bring to the comments.

      I think for us overthinkers, the challenge is not so much the getting in there, but what we decide to do once we're there. Do we just incorporate exterior expectations or do we explore what WE want? Do we pay more attention to fears than to opportunities or do we visualize and get to experience what WE want? Do we waste time trying to defend our egos or do we shift our energy towards compassion and generosity?

      Or do we spend most of the time contemplating the tiniest details of our next meal? (A weakness of mine I'm afraid) :)

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  2. Death Ride GrandmaMay 5, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    Inside, huh? Well, it sounds good, and I plan to remember this Q&A session as I continue to struggle to eat better. I think it makes sense - I am already working on eating more good-for-me stuff rather than telling myself not to eat the junk. As soon as I tell myself no, I can't think about anything else until I have given in. So yes rather than no (but sneaking in a different question) sounds promising!

    Meanwhile, the Death Ride training has moved into high gear. Although actually moving into high gear involved getting a lower gear added to my bike last week, which makes my old knees happy. I rode my second century of the year yesterday and am feeling the resulting soreness/relief/smugness. It was 109 miles, 9000' of climbing. Hard, but I felt much better than I did on the same ride last year. Next weekend: 96 miles with 10,000'+. Most weeks will be sort of like that until July 12. This is all blended in with a bunch of work related travel. Come July 13, I may just sit perfectly still for a month or so!

    I have found it very reassuring to read blogs & articles by people who are training for long stuff. Fitandfeminist had a great one, and a woman who did an Ironman wrote an article in Runner's World. Both of their goals made mine sound quite reasonable by comparison!

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 5, 2014 at 1:00 PM

      DRG, it occurs to me that training for these mind-boggling athletic feats of strength and endurance must be a very interesting combo of "inside" and "outside" aspects! You have very concrete external (and unforgiving) criteria you're striving for, yet I imagine mastery must call upon awareness and tweaking of all kinds of mental processes. Or, I imagine a certain degree of insanity might help. :)

      Will be SO curious to hear how the training goes and glad you've found a tribe of folks training for similar amazing physical feats! You are a rare and impressive species!

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    2. DRG - I love that you do all this training and endurance stuff!! And Crabby is right on about the need for a smattering of insanity.

      So many normal people don't understand our funtastic brand of crazy: not just the 'why' ("Did someone MAKE you do this!?") - but, the actual 'what' stuff ("How many days will it take you to ride that 100 miles?") to the point where not only do they think we're kinda loony - but we start to wonder about OURSELVES!

      So, I just want to say that I happen to really like this special room I have in the booby hatch. It's feels comfortable, there's always room for more of those of similar ilk and we don't need to serve up any explanations :). (Just pass those scrumptious kumquats down this way, please.)

      And I agree that yes is almost always easier on the ears and the psyche than no. Really looking forward to hearing how The Big Ride goes, DRG :).

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  3. I truly focus on just being happy. Sure feeling outward success and love is apart of being happy, but even without those things, I strive for happiness... And I do this by giving myself alone time when I need it, resting as much as I can when I am not GOGOGO and feeding myself as healthy as possible. Doing these things FUELS the outward successes!

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      You know GIgi, you sure so seem happy and it makes you so fun to hang out with! (Virtually I mean--I can only hope one day IRL as well).

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  4. OMG I guess I just posted like 80000 times and you did see what I wrote, LMFAO!

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 5, 2014 at 1:05 PM

      Sorry Gigi sometimes the comments are haunted! I deleted 7,998 but had to leave at least one extra one just to alert others who have run into trouble with comment gremlins that it's nothing personal!

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  5. I may live a little too much inside my head measuring all the possible outcomes and examining how I really feel about this or that. I often need a good kick back into the real world where practical stuff needs to get done. I am also hyper-aware of how I am feeling which has me over thinking all my exercises. I'm always questioning and never settle on one answer.

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 5, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      Cranky Fitness seems to attract a lot of us "head cases!" But to play devil's advocate Cindy--I think hyper-awareness and overthinking can be strengths if used for Good and not Evil, though I've found it takes a lot of work and patience and make progress with that myself.

      Hope you find ways to feel like your busy brain is working for you rather than against you!

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  6. Interesting post, Crabby....

    I am currently in the middle of extensive job hunting (have an interview this week!) and one of my reasons for changing job is to lessen my commute and have more time in my life for, well, life... which might even include some more fun stuff and some more fitness stuff.

    My version of "Going Inside" at present is to remind myself that I'm making this change for ME, whether or not anyone else thinks it's a good / bad/ indifferent idea. "Going Inside" in this way is also a way of resolving the self-defeating crap which advises me I should just stay where I am and learn to put up with the drudge of 3.5 hours travel time each day (and that's when everything runs on time).

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 5, 2014 at 1:29 PM

      Good luck on the interview Fliss!

      And isn't it weird how hard it is to ignore the self-defeating crap even when we can recognize that it's not in our best interests?

      I think we're wired to pay more attention to doubts than is optimal, just because we evolved in times where over-caution helped survival, so it was worth the tradeoff of exaggerating threats and over-valuing safety over growth. I think our brains still give fear and doubt way more of a say than they deserve, just because eons ago, fear was a much more practical state of mind to hang out in when you could get ripped apart by bears or clubbed by hostile rival cave-people or whatever. But really, in modern life, how often do job changes involve being chased by bears or murderous tribes of war-mongering neanderthals? Hardly ever!

      Anyway, hope more fun stuff and fitness stuff is in your future, sooner rather than later!

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  7. Most of my work is inside. On the outside I see about adding another squat or another set of stairs, but if I do less on Monday than I did on Sunday it doesn't matter. I did something,

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 5, 2014 at 1:31 PM

      You do seem like someone very comfortable working on the inside, leah!

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  8. Inside is a scary place for me.

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 5, 2014 at 1:32 PM

      Doesn't seem fair, Shelley, since you send out such nice friendly energy to the outside! Gotta figure out a way to shine that cheerful compassionate light back inside too!

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    2. Thank you for this. I tend toward the less-introspective way...it's easier if I don't dig too deep.

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  9. TERRIFIC post! I heard something a while back that sort of stuck with me and here it is:

    Instead of the old "I'll by happy when...." model wherein something must be accomplished for one to feel happy - stand the model on its head and proclaim "I am (or will be) happy! (or happier)".

    Real data show that once a person does that they are SO much more likely to achieve the goal they originally set out to accomplish - or MORE - or ever BETTER! The focus as you rightly say (although more succinctly/eloquently is on the happy part. The rest then follows. :):):):):):):) At least that's what I'm hoping for!.....

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    1. UltraKaz, love that you are elevating the discussion by bringing in actual research. This stuff is all "easier said than done," for sure, but anyone who can find happiness in the middle of a 100 mile ultramarathon is kind of a role model!

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  10. Hmmm.....maybe this is exactly what I need! Lately I've been on a steady spiral downward and I don't like it one little bit! Maybe I should head inside and try to make some changes - like eliminating some of the things that only cause me stress and not happiness!!!
    Wow - that could be the solution - no stress so I will keep my workouts, my family and my wine and most of the rest needs some serious consideration!!!

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    1. Kim, you are so darn strong and kickass, that I bet if your focus shifted slightly to how to make your life less stressfull and more meaningful, and you put a little energy into it (and if you could let yourself take care of yourself the way you take care of others) you could make that spiral head up, up, up!

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  11. We're expecting our first baby, and I have a tendency toward worrying about what life will be like after baby. At this point, I can't know, so why worry about it? I've been working on remaining present during pregnancy, not worrying about what's to come, and not getting wrapped up in and overwhelmed with all we need to do before she arrives.

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    1. Wow, I wonder if pregnancy would be a huge challenge to living in the moment, with the Future with a capital F being so clearly on the horizon? It's great that you're being so observant of your own process, trying to minimze worrying and be present for as much as you can. And has any parent ever truly been "prepared?" :)

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  12. Yay for inside! Since my present goal is to survive my personal pollen season, I mean inside literally. I'm also a fan of vagueness. This is my life, not a business plan; I don't need every single detail to be measurable.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 5, 2014 at 11:01 PM

      Three cheers for vagueness Mary Anne! I am a HUGE fan.

      And btw, thank you, I think you were the one who found me the human hamster wheel photo. How weird is it that I actually kinda wouldn't mind spending a day in one? At least if it had a private lavatory and a well-stocked fridge.

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    2. That was me. I thought of you at once when I saw that thing. (It does indeed have a kitchen and bathroom. I can only think "motion sickness" when I look at it.)

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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  13. I've finally starting digging around the cobwebs inside my head. Some of it is "Woah!!!", some of it is "Really?"....but most of it is pretty okay.

    I'm BSC - I'm okay with it. ;-)

    As for giving back - I don't know what I can give back at this point. But let me tell you, I'm awfully thankful for what I learn from everyone here.

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 5, 2014 at 11:05 PM

      That's pretty cool that you have more "pretty okay" than "OMG, no, Acckkkk!!!!!" when you dig around mental cobwebs Lucky Mama--puts you ahead of most folks!

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  14. Wow! that really hit home. I'm in the process of getting a divorce, changing careers (Yes I did quit!) and have been reading several nonfiction books about thinking (best one so far is "Blink" by Malcom Gladwell.) I went to yoga today, made an appointment with the divorce mediator gal and attempted to clean my shower door. Well, no one's perfect.

    Plus I'm working on starting my own online business. Don't hold your breath. haha

    "The best is yet to come!" is my new motto.
    Love, love, love your blog!
    Ciao,
    Bob Ben

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 5, 2014 at 11:11 PM

      Wow Bob Ben, what an inspiration!!!

      So much going on in your life, some of it sounds really challenging, and yet you're being all proactive and thoughtful and healthy about it! And can't wait to hear more about the online business.

      (Side note on shower doors: we got the vague notion that we might hire someone to renovate our crappy decrepit condo shower stalls this year, but put it off til next year. But meanwhile I've used it as an excuse not to clean AT ALL in there in either bathroom since theoretically someday they're gonna be replaced. So even an attempted shower door cleaning is impressive!)

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    2. thanx Crabby.
      PS Shower door still dirty.

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  15. I'm a worrier by nature.. not a productive way to be. I do tend to work on it every now and then.

    On another train of thought... I have clearly been watching too much of the hockey playoffs. My first thought on reading the blog title was of a goalie's net.

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 5, 2014 at 11:15 PM

      I am blissfully ignorant of all matters hockey-related! But as as a reformed worrier, I gotta encourage you to keep working, because something semi-magical can happen in middle age to us chronic worriers. All of a sudden all that work can start to pay off! I don't understand the neuroscience of it, I just love that I can talk myself down 1000% more easily than I ever used to. It's like the brain cells are ready to mellow out if we just give 'em a good story and tell 'em to chill.

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    2. I am a non-worrier in a family well supplied with worriers. It's when you start worrying about worrying too much that you have to worry.

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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  16. I have not been visiting "inside" since just around the time I landed in Miami Beach. Coincidence? Unlikely. My head has been filled with palm trees, the ocean, the sunshine, the sand, and fun times on the bus! Not to mention hilarious birds, cute lizards and lovely orange butterflies.

    If you can believe it, I have fallen off the meditation wagon…unless you can count sitting on a chaise lounge and reading for hours as meditation.

    Back home tomorrow after 15 days of bliss…and back to the daily meditation. Enough slacking, time to get cracking!

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 5, 2014 at 11:16 PM

      Kimberley, I can't think of a better reason to meditate than to prepare your brain to be able to do what you just did--enjoy every moment of something magical! That TOTALLY counts!

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  17. Crap - the inside stuff is eating me alive. SOmetimes I take it in little baby steps & other times I just have to walk away from it cause it is too overwhelming. That is where the gym comes in for me. :)

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 5, 2014 at 11:18 PM

      Exercise is a great mind-chill Jody, but it just doesn't seem right that someone with your talent and energy shouldn't get to have some peace of mind. Hope the path becomes clear, because I know you have the strength and will to follow it once it does!

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  18. For the inside stuff, i ask the inner child, because if she's not on board, it won't get done.

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 6, 2014 at 11:28 AM

      Good idea messymimi! Just wish mine wasn't such a brat...

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  19. dammit, I hit the wrong button and the fantastic comment I was going to leave is POOF, gone. GRRRRRRRRR
    I think I said something like being inside my mind is a very scary place to be. And then I think I said something about Charlotte's blog posting really resonating with me. I need to live in the now more.

    I am getting back up after a major stumble. I do not want to be that woman who lost all that weight and then gained it all back again. Such a pity. So sad. What a failure! I do not want to be her. It is a very scary time for me. I don't believe in myself yet. But I have not given up on myself yet either. Glad you're here Crabby, and many others. It helps. :)

    I don't think this posting is as good as the one that the computer ate, but it'll do.

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    1. Crabby McSlackerMay 6, 2014 at 11:42 PM

      Oh shoot Sherri, I seem to be getting more feedback that the blog is eating comments again, I'm so sorry!!

      So, I don't think you should be scared! You are ON this, being mindful and creative and determined. I can really tell you don't want to totally lose everything you worked so hard for.

      It's hard... sounds like some days are going to be about recovering from setbacks rather than gaining new ground. But I think the secret of successful maintainers is that they don't give up when that happens, they don't think of themselves as failures because they keep fighting, and you sure sound to me exactly like one of the successful ones in the way you're approaching this!

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  20. It is a useful post, at least if you try to go outside or get inside your head to find out your goals. Failure is the pillar of success as well. Keep going on.

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