My nieces were learning to ride proper bikes today. They’re 4 and 5, so suffice it to say it didn’t always go well. But the best thing about watching them was when it all went wrong (hear me out, I’m a good Auntie really). And according to them, when they couldn’t pedal it was the bikes fault. When they crashed into each other it was their sister’s fault. When the bike wouldn’t move it was the grass’ fault.
Kids don’t take responsibility. They blame. Makes sense really. They don’t want to accept that their lack of ability is the issue, or they don’t want to be punished when they were clearly caught spraying bug killer onto the dog (yes, that did happen but don’t worry, my dog is fine).
At least that all changes when we become adults. We all take full responsibility for our actions. Do we, fuck!
If anything, I reckon it gets worse.
For example, I got a speeding ticket through last week. It was easy to blame the fact that I was just following the flow of traffic. It was, however, clearly my responsibility for not looking at the bloody speedo.
In our work and home life do we take responsibility for all the times we make mistakes, or start arguments, or when we accidentally let a whole chocolate cake fall into our mouth? I think not. You see the thing is that as adults we are still just as shit at taking responsibility as kids are. And this is especially true when it comes to our diets and our health.
But what’s the difference between blame and responsibility and why does it matter?
Blame is a scenario where our actions, mistakes and failures are a direct cause of something or someone else. As a personal trainer I used to hear this all the time…
“It was Dave’s fault; he took me to a posh restaurant for a surprise date”
“I have to keep crisps and chocolate in the house because of the kids”
“I have bad genes and being overweight runs in my family”
“I can’t go out for a walk because I’m always at work”
“I’m rubbish. I have no willpower and so there’s no point in trying to change because I’m bound to fail again.”
These “reasons” might make you feel better in the short-term. But my niece telling herself that it’s wobbly grass’ fault that she can’t immediately ride a bike means that she won’t learn the lesson that it’s because she’s not fucking pedalling. Dude, I know you’re four, but seriously why haven’t I taught you about Newton’s Laws yet? It’s the same deal with your mindset. If you keep throwing around blame then you are far less likely to be able to learn the laws of weight loss, and exactly why you can’t stick to an exercise programme.
Responsibility is different. Once you accept responsibility for your own actions (like doing 44mph in a 30 zone really is my responsibility) then you can give yourself the space to learn from your behaviour and then be able to grow because of it.
Taking away the blame means that you can start to realise the shit that you are responsible for, such as:
- What you choose to put into your shopping basket.
- Learning that you deal with emotions by eating all of the snacks.
- Waking up 30 minutes earlier to take the dog for a longer walk.
- Learning that a super-low calorie diet will make you starving and therefore crash and binge eat at some point.
- Knowing that you should probably stop after 2 glasses of wine (although alcohol lowers your ability to make genuinely good choices, so this one you can blame on the wine).
- Realising that if you keep having the same failures again and again that there’s probably something new you need to learn, or a slight change you need to make.
If we learn to accept responsibility and stop blaming both internal and external forces, then something else great happens… we will start to give ourselves credit for the things we absolutely smash. We learn to stop praising Slimming World for making us eat fewer Syns and instead, start congratulating ourselves for not eating so much junk food.
But there’s no getting away from the fact that society is setting us up to fail. It engineers hyper-palatable food which are super-high in calories and then blames us for eating it. Let’s take back some power and learn to take responsibility for shoving it into our faces by learning what makes us self-sabotage against achieving our goals.
So here are some quick ways of taking responsibility but making it productive rather than shameful…
- Notice every time you are throwing blame for things that are in your control.
- Don’t take it badly when you fuck up. You will. Take each moment as an opportunity to learn whatever it is that you need to and move on.
- Put your fuck ups into perspective before deciding to use it as a reason for self-sabotage or stress yourself out. Will it matter in 5 minutes? 5 days, 5 months or 5 years? If after 5 days it won’t have an impact on your life anymore then you can probably just let it go. Move on and don’t give it another thought. (Thanks to Emily Chadbourne at “This Crazy Thing Called Life” for that little gem, and seriously follow her Facebook page for more legendary bits of mindset advice).
- Focus on taking action rather than sitting with the feelings of guilt or shame. Pick an action which will improve your issues, just 1% better then you are doing now. Little changes which are turned into habits by repetition will cause the biggest change for the better.
There are many reasons why you find it difficult to stick to fad diets and crazy hard exercise routines. Hunger and exhaustion are real things. Learn to recognise the difference between a company setting you up to fail, compared to the moments where you need to pull up those big girl panties and admit that you’re maybe not doing life as well as you could be.
So maybe put that second piece of cheesecake down and go play with the dog instead.
If you appreciated this little life lesson then please do me a solid and give it a like and a share. And I will send you some very good karma in return!
Stay crazy, you beautiful weirdos.
(The Anti-Fitness Trainer)