I used to be quite good at letting myself down. Promises and commitments made to others were always easier to keep than the promises and commitments I would make to myself.
I’ve often heard that you can’t love others until you learn how to love yourself. Yet some of the kindest, most compassionate and loving people I know often struggle with treating themselves the way they so instinctively treat others.
Much of this stems from a distorted sense of worth and self-image. For those, we see them so differently from the way they see themselves. It feels like something a great many have quietly struggled with in differing degrees. I know I’ve had my challenges. We know who we really are, we tell ourself, and often we struggle showering the person who we tell ourselves we are with the same kindness and compassion we freely give away to others.
For me, not keeping commitments to myself was one of my ways of not showing myself the love. It was my way of subconsciously me keeping me more like I’ve always been. Setting goals and actually accomplishing them would make me a different person, different from the person I’ve always accepted myself to be. Letting myself down was just my way of self-regulating and keeping me who it was I told myself I was.
Five years ago I presented myself with a challenge. A challenge of commitment. A challenge of commitment to myself. Something simple. Something I would always have time to do. Something I knew I could perform which meant that the only reason why didn’t do it was because I chose not to.
Equal in number to my age.
For five years.
100,000 push ups.
I wasn’t good at push ups. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do 50+ push ups all at once. I’d certainly have to break it up into several sessions per day. But this was the challenge I presented myself with. I called myself out. If I couldn’t find the time to do my push ups every day, why would I think I’d be able to keep any other more meaningful and significant commitments in my life? Like, Pete, if you can’t do this, don’t waste any more time thinking that you’ll ever be anything more than you already are.
And with that, I started. It wasn’t easy at first, but I kept with it. I kept track of my progress on the whiteboard I have at home. The number of consecutive days and the total number of push ups completed. The entire family knew of my commitment and now they could graphically see if I was actually keeping my commitment to myself.
It was a significant test for me to learn about keeping commitments made to myself. A test that would tell me about who I really was. A test that would tell my family about who I really was.
Five years later? 100,000 push ups completed. The only thing that temporarily interrupted my consecutive days streak was a debilitating case of sciatica which rendered me physically useless. I’d accomplished 1,438 consecutive days of push ups before my injury. But I was back at it as soon as I was able to move again, doing extra push ups each day to get me back on track.
Sure, there were days I didn’t feel like doing them. There were days I had gone to bed only to realize I had yet to do my push ups that day. So I got out of bed and hit the floor to do them. Even the day of my knee surgery I made sure I did my push ups before going to the hospital and was able to prop myself up in a manner that allowed me to do them during my recovery. Without missing a day.
Because I promised myself I would.
Commitment and disciple aren’t glamorous. But they are the cornerstone of building anything worth building. Especially when it comes to building a healthier relationship with yourself.
My relationship with me has, in fact, changed. I was quite accomplished at telling myself what I was going to do and never quite actually doing it. Now, there is a much healthier level of self respect. I undertook a five year commitment and completed the task. I kept my word to me, 100,000 times, and with that I learned that I could trust me. With me. Something I had a difficult time doing previously.
It was a significant step in my growing more into who it was I was created to be. Possibilities now feel far more possible.
I still do my daily push ups. It’s simply become a daily habit. It serves as a reminder of the impact taking small consistent steps in your own direction can have in building a new identity about who you believe yourself to be and being worthy of the corresponding self love that comes with it.
That wasn’t my intention.
But that has been the outcome.
What about you? How is your relationship with you? Perhaps there’s one thing you can challenge yourself to do for you to improve your relationship with you?